Monday, June 25, 2012

Album Review: Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough

Album Rating: A-
The idea of a concept album is pretty interesting, but perhaps not so viable in the post-rock setting. However, that doesn't stop New Jersey-based band Athletics from working on such a record. The inclusion of vocals is pretty important if anything related to a concept album is going to be well-developed, though, and the band takes this into account. The result is remarkable. The entire record, a 30-minute work, is one "song" divided into five parts that work off of a central theme, introduced in the first part. It's incredible, and takes the style of a classical theme and variations as opposed to separate parts of an album that flow into one giant collection. Who You Are Is Not Enough breathes, lives, and exudes subtle shifts between the parts that dynamically move the ambiance of each song, and in succeeding, the listener as well.

The album has heavy post-rock influences, but an interesting look at some of the lyrics shows that the genre of the album also has some ties with the emo genre that are of key importance. For example, a lyric that appears on the album reads; "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." These lines couple with a melancholy tune on Who You Are Is Not Enough, much akin to a song like "Sounds Like Sunday" on Mineral's End Serenading, bestowing a somber feeling melody upon the reader attached to depressing lyrics , just the same as Athletics; "Nothing but the way my heart fits in your hands; / The held breath of hope; / And the sweet lingering taste of grace. / How blessed we are for crying now, / For we will laugh someday...and how." Both songs feel disconsolate, reminiscing on some loss, and the subject matter is description about how things may be better in the future, but also how it is difficult to overcome despair in the present. Relating back to the record, I thought it necessary to discuss the feel of the album because that's what really makes this album. Who You Are Is Not Enough sways the listener over by not only lyrics, but affection stacked with lyrics, and the effect is noticeably swaying, and tends to grasp the listener long after the album is over and done with.

As I said before, the album takes more to the style of a theme and variation than truly different tracks. An unthinking listener might distinguish, "Hey, these sound the same! What the hell?", and simply cite the lack of creativity the band has, being unable to come up with different chord progressions for different songs. However, upon noticing the simplistic names for the tracks (i.e. "I," "II," etc.), one will notice that they are indeed parts of the same song. This idea, once stumbled upon, points to a whole new way to interpret the album. Not only does the album cause a fluidly changing whirl of emotions inside the listener, but it also instigates an intimate analysis of why the slightly-different parts cause an entire affection alteration. This analysis incites a further play-through of the album, and a closer familiarity, perhaps becoming a cycle, but nonetheless placing the album close to the listener's heart.

Who You Are Is Not Enough is an entire emotional palette wrapped inside a small, half-hour release. The writing is excellent, as is the lyricism, and the album really doesn't have any competitors, being so unbelievably unique. That being said, I feel that the album could easily be accepted by people of many varying musical tastes, since it doesn't simply lie in the realm of post-rock, nor ambient, nor any other single genre. It transcends genre, and quite possibly description - I honestly doubt my ability to do this album the justice it deserves by describing it in words. Simply listen, dear reader, and be hypnotized as I was by the magic of Athletic's beautiful sophomore album. Let the band tell you a story, riddle you a tale, and whisper into your ear, "Who You Are Is Not Enough".

You can stream the entire album and download it FOR FREE at Athletics' Bandcamp page.

You'll be able to find the band's first album on their Deep Elm page. You can also find their latest EP Stop Torturing Yourself here.
If you keep an eye on the band's Facebook page, they'll announce pre-order methods tomorrow.
And starting today, you can listen to the third track of the album, (aptly named) "III", on the second Muzik Dizcovery sampler, Dizcovering Muzik: Volume 2.

Track Listing:
1) I
2) II
3) III
4) IV
5) V

1 comment:

  1. This album is hauntingly amazing. I can't get enough. I still can't make up my mind if he is losing a love or a life (or both?). Do yourself a favor and listen to this on a good stereo from beginning to end. This is the best music I have found in 2012!