A Look At: Athlete* - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > 'Zine (archived) > Content > Profiles
Click Here to Login
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 06-13-2005, 04:08 AM   #1
love, blood, life
HelloAngel's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: new york city
Posts: 14,534
Local Time: 02:51 PM
A Look At: Athlete*

By Kenneth MacLellan

Since the demise of Britpop, British music has been relatively free of any defining scene. Instead, an eclectic selection of artists has broken through in recent years, including Radiohead, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and The Streets. Each of these bands has gone on to worldwide acclaim and sales yet the search for The Next Big Thing continues.

However, one band that has been free of this kind of labeling might actually take the title—Athlete.

Athlete hails from Deptford, London, and is comprised of Joel Pott (guitar/vocals), Carey Willetts (bass), Stephen Roberts (drums), and Tim Wanstall (keyboards). The band members have been friends since the age of 14 and played in a number of Oasis-inspired groups prior to forming Athlete in 2000.

Quitting their jobs as gardeners and skate shop owners, the quartet began working on songs and a released a self-titled EP in 2002. The lead track on the EP, "Westside," came to attention of Radio 1's Jo Wiley and its airplay helped the band secure a deal with Parlophone Records.

Apart from a way with a big, stirring chorus, the two years spent honing its sound removed all the Oasis influence from Athlete. In fact, the band's mix of pop melodies, guitars and electronics on early singles like "You Got the Style" showed Athlete to be closer to alternative American bands like Granddaddy than any Britpop outfit.

"Vehicles & Animals," the band's 2003 debut album, underlined this further. Opening track "El Salvador" has the hooks and quirkiness of late period Pavement, while "Beautiful" has echoes of recent Mercury Rev and some of the acoustic ballads recall Beck at his most lush and brooding.

Despite the American influences, the album retains a very British feel. If Thom Yorke ever quit worrying and found some peace, the resultant Radiohead album may not be too dissimilar from "Vehicles & Animals."

Athlete spent the remainder of 2003 building up a cult following through extensive touring. A Mercury Music Prize nomination for Album of the Year further raised the band's profile and in 2004 Athlete returned to the studio with Victor Van Vugt, who'd previously worked with auteur Nick Cave, to answer the question many critics were asking: Could Athlete successfully follow-up its debut?

In January of this year, first single "Wires" gave a clear indication that the answer was "yes."

An epic yet uplifting ballad, the single showcased a slight shift in direction for the band, a maturing and refining of its sound. The single was greeted with positive reviews, and earned Athlete a Top 5 UK hit, the band's highest chart placing to date.

The album that followed, "Tourist," delivered what the band had been promising prior to recording its second LP—songs that were more ambitious but also more personal than those offered on "Vehicles & Animals."

Inevitably, sidelining quirkiness in favor of emotion led to a number of Coldplay comparisons. However, such comparison is lazy and unhelpful as "Tourist," in its wonder and playfulness, is far nearer "The Soft Bulletin" by The Flaming Lips than "A Rush of Blood to the Head."

"Tourist" has already out-sold its predecessor and its success will keep the band busy for the rest of the year with a sold-out UK tour starting in the autumn, and a just wrapped stint opening for Snow Patrol in the United States. Before that, though, there are festival appearances and support dates with U2 on the European leg of the Vertigo Tour—June 15th in Manchester, June 18th in London and July 16th in Amsterdam.

Bono said recently that he was hoping a group would come along that could give U2 a run for its money. Many of the hippest, freshest contenders will be warming up for U2 this summer, including Franz Ferdinand, Keane and The Thrills. Yet it may be the unassuming, appropriately named Athlete, four high school friends who have grown to make bold, emotional music, that has the stamina for the challenge.

For more information on Athlete, visit http://www.athlete.mu.

HelloAngel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2005, 06:07 AM   #2
War Child
karls77's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Southeast UK (formerly Tucson, AZ)
Posts: 689
Local Time: 06:51 PM
Anyone have any of their CD's?? I've heard the singles but haven't really been impressed. Just wondering if their albums are decent as a whole....

I'm willing to give them a chance as I'm seeing them open on the 18th.

karls77 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-16-2005, 02:35 PM   #3
Blue Crack Addict
DaveC's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: slouching towards bethlehem
Posts: 22,838
Local Time: 02:51 PM
Radiohead has certainly been around much longer than Britpop ever was. "Creep" anyone?
DaveC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-16-2005, 02:45 PM   #4
War Child
ClaytonMan's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: North England
Posts: 658
Local Time: 06:51 PM
I personally like athlete but if you dont like the singles you wont like the albums, the first album is way better than the second as well
ClaytonMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-16-2005, 04:55 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 8
Local Time: 06:51 PM
I know Radiohead have been around since before Britpop but at that time they were generally dismissed as grungey, one-hit wonders. I wouldnt say they emerged as a true force until after Country House/Roll With It began the end of Britpop. But I take your point. Its like REM - you could say they broke through with 'The One I Love' or with 'Losing My Religion.'
KennyM is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:51 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com