Sound — 6
Following on from the Britpop/Indie group's 2005 success, Beyond the Neighbourhood sees the South London band mature and progress musically and creatively. Athlete's third release, recorded in the band's self-built studio, experiments with electro-beats and quirky organic-beats, such as doors shutting and switches flicking, much like those heard on a The Used album. Beyond the Neighbourhood starts off with an unconventional electronic driven instrumental track called In Between 2 States. Although genuinely thought evoking, the song does not impress and would be better suited as a film score rather than the opening track of a record. The album lifts up with the second track and single Hurricane. This stomping radio friendly song is sure to grab your attention with it's sing-along melodies and catchy guitar work. Tokyo, a piano driven indie pop song is another highlight of the album with a sing along chorus. Apart from the ninth track In the Library, the album takes a moodier, low key tone after third track Tokyo. Although it is pleasant and soothing to occasionally listen to a couple of soft core tracks, the five songs separating Tokyo and In the Library unfortunately don't have many stand out moments and therefore end up all sounding somewhat same-y.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on the album are genuinely thought provoking and strike so close to heart it's eerie. Lyrically wise, front man Joel Pott has definitely stepped it up. His lyrics vary from topics of war to dealing with the environment, from falling in love to dealing with death. As bass player Carey Willets put it We're trying to figure out what we think about a lot of things. Y'know, all the issues our generation is concerned and confused about. An example of addressing one of these 'issues' is the track This is What I Sound Like which questions war and the unnecessary violence in the world of today: Do you know what you're fighting for; Well let's fight, let's fight; Do you know what we're asking for; Cause I don't sometimes and Stop at nothing to get what we want; Too young to realize we're all the same.
Overall Impression — 5
It is clear that with Beyond the Neighbourhood, the band tried experimenting with different sounds and various other ways of making music (take In Between 2 States for example which was made with a synthesizer program on Pott's laptop), which is always a positive progression in the modern industry. The only problem is that most of the tunes on the Indie quartet's third album sound too normal and too regular. But it is not easy to write off Athlete as an average band. Listening to the record as a whole, it is obvious that Athlete have the passion, emotion, and the musical creativity of an experienced group. All of which are clearly shown on track Second Hand Stores. Regrettably apart from a couple of standout songs, the album lacks the killer tunes that make a record memorable. Overall, Athlete have the potential and the talent, but sadly Beyond the Neighbourhood just doesn't do the band justice.