Why Snow Patrol? Why not Athlete? It’s one for pre-eminent pop historians of the future to chew over, for while Gary Lightbody and his fey troupe have malformed somewhat improbably into arena-filling behemoths, Athlete and their similarly pitched indie melancholy keep getting unfairly pushed to the back of the queue. And each time they do, as proven all over again by Black Swan
, they refine their output yet further. This, their fourth album, is about as lean as they can get without dropping the instruments and going a capella. One notable difference between them and that other lot is that Athlete are really a lot less needy; there’s heartbreak and solace sought on most tracks (take "Love Come Rescue", "The Awkward Goodbye" and "Don’t Hold Your Breath" for typical mid-pace meanders through that territory), but they never really overdo the melodrama, they just put their heads down and get on with it. What this results in is honest, efficient reflections, down to earth turns of phrase that don’t disappoint because they’re articulated so appropriately, with such a stately sense of understatement, rolled forwards on swelling banks of melody. It can be all to easy to forget that Athlete have a pulse sometimes as the comfort blanket side of their character beds down so easily, but with the bouncy 80s pop of "Superhuman Touch" harking back to their debut and "The Unknown" evoking James at their most soaring, Black Swan really sinks its talons in. --James Berry
Fourth album from the successful London indie band, the follow-up to 2007's Beyond The Neighbourhood
and their debut for Fiction. A poppier, more immediate album than anything they have ever done before, Black Swan
comes from a desire for "getting the songs across as much as we could" and the band seem to have succeeded. A distinct '80s influence is alsoprevalent, with a heavy use of synths. Includes the single "Superhuman Touch".