Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Who You Are Is Not Enough
Written by: DR on 10/09/2012 18:00:14
In the month of June, 2012, Athletics released their debut LP, "Why Aren't I Home?", for the first time on vinyl, an experimental EP titled "Stop Torturing Yourself" which saw the band rework four songs from that LP for a stripped-back piano format, and they also seemed destined to establish themselves as serious contenders within the post-rock scene as their second LP, "Who You Are Is Not Enough", is one of the most essential albums of the genre this year.
Lasting half an hour, whereas "...Home" lasted fourty-five minutes, "...Not Enough" is decidedly shorter than its predecessor in terms of running time, but its scope is certainly greater. With this record they've taken the approach to create an album of genuine coherency. The song-titles are merely one to five in Roman numerals, and each song flows seamlessly into the next, asserting "...Not Enough" as the kind of record so absorbing it needs to be listened to from start to finish, without interuption.
The album has an ebb-like flow to it, featuring all the well-placed guitar-fuelled highs and lows expected of post-rock, and the emotive vocals purging introspective lyrics that are commonplace in alternative rock music. However, though the format is familiar, the emotion is fresh and the song-writing ability flawless. At 'only' thirty minutes long, no seconds have been wasted on unnecessary pretention or technical indulgence. Each note is carefully chosen to contribute to the overall theme and ambiance of the record, each vocal well placed to be as affecting as possible, and each lyric concentrated for pure catharsism. Indeed, it's because of Athletics' sincerity in these areas that the often exercised quiet/loud dynamic seems so immaculate.
The call/response between guitars/vocals in opener "I" is a perfect example of the assuredness of Athletics, as there's a spotless understanding of how to exploit the quiet/loud dynamic for maximum emotional effect. "II", the longest track on the album, peaks early with a wall of awesome surging vocal and guitar work, allowing the listener plenty of time to calm down before it eases into the finest track on the album, "III". Sitting right at the centre, it's the peak of the record. Arguably more vocally-driven than the other efforts, the listener is instantly attentive to the incredible vocal transitions from lofty melodies, to inwardly croons, to the fantastic strained shouts of "Now my future and my past are ending tragically the same." that cue a typically soaring crescendo.
However, the closing track, "V", suggest at what's to come from them in future: With the guitar relegated to the background behind a solemnly playing piano, vocalist Garrett Yaeger sings rawly, "Time may heal the deepest wounds, but a severed limb is gone for good / My love died with you / I should have died with you / I would have died for you." It's a fitting conclusion of acceptance for this record of loss, love, and self-doubt, ending this epic on a note of resolution. Not since their debut has the marriage of star-gazing post-rock and emotive alternative rock fired with such conviction.
Download: II, III
For The Fans of: Moving Mountains, The Cast Before The Break, Brand New, Gates, Goonies Never Say Die
Listen: Bandcamp (name your price)
Release Date 26.06.2012