Ten catchy choruses, no original ideas
Paired with a Grey’s Anatomy clip in which someone dies or falls in love, Athlete’s mid-tempo rock might pack a punch. But when alone, the sweeping choruses that swarm Athlete’s fourth record, Black Swan, shoot for the rafters without any substantial emotional anchor—the songs get lost in the clouds.
Blame Coldplay, a band that makes genuinely grandiose music look easy. With Black Swan, Athlete joins the ranks of Coldplay clones (Snow Patrol, Keane, et al) in a land of make-believe where every chorus is huge, every guitar plays only quarter notes and every song is about overcoming an unexplained hardship. Athlete packages emotions like greeting cards, as on the plodding, string-laden “Black Swan Song” where frontman Joel Pott cries, “My body is weak, but my soul is still strong / I am ready to rest in your arms.” Perhaps this message is true, but it’s all been said before.