Vehicles & Animals
Vehicles & Animals (EMI)
Signed by the talent scout who gave us Coldplay, Athlete work the same seam of doleful pop. We're into the second generation of Britpop and all it seems to do is rip off the first, which at least had the imagination to make ripping off other decades stylish.
When Joel Pott sings, 'Take me back to 1979 so I can find my open eyes', we'd like to believe he's looking back at days of better pop. But he's probably remembering the joys of being a toddler. Pott's band of lads from Deptford, south London, found it easy to mimic but tough to uncover variety in the pool of talent they plunder.
Athlete have the whimsy of Badly Drawn Boy and the clean sound of Parklife-era Blur - crisp strumming with nods to electronic music. What they lack is a song that announces itself above the other 11 tracks on V&A. The album wants to be played from beginning to end with the volume knob at a polite number two. Perhaps we should reserve judgment until Athlete have lived some of the adventures of their backpacker tribute, El Salvador: 'It's time to take new measures/ Someone will put us up tonight/ Far from our place of rest/ I've almost got you in sight'.