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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 1 October 2003
Look around the British music rock scene at the moment, and though it's undeniably flourishing, it's all just a little dark. Hail To The Thief, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Think Tank, Sleeping With Ghosts - all uplifing in their own way, but none of them make you smile stupidly and nod your head and sway with the beat. If you're missing the summer and want to inject some fun into your CD collection, look no further than Athlete.
From the moment you slip the record into the player, and the first slightly distorted drum beats of 'El Salvador' begin to play, you can't help but tap your feet. Ignore the fact that it sounds a lot like Avril Lavigne's 'Complicated', it's better, and happier. And the mood doesn't stop - on single 'Westside', the band even helpfully shout out 'Chorus!' as your cue to start singing. The vocalist Joel Pott's friendly vocal twang complements everything the band play - whether it's skitting hip-hop drum machine on 'One Million' or the brilliantly witty singalong of 'Dungeness'. 'You Got The Style', amazingly about the racial divide, is another fantastic karaoke song, though it manages to be serious as well as great fun.
There are, granted, slower tracks, but not Radiohead or Coldplay slow. 'Shake Those Windows' and 'Beautiful' are stunning, maintaining the easy melodic flow whilst sounding just a little less manically happy. The former has the most instantly likeable chorus I've heard in many years. There are some poignant moments too - 'New Project' for instance, with the lyric 'Imagine this is all you ever had', and the title track, where Pott croons gently along with acoustic guitar, daring you to join him, until the whole band comes in a wonderful coda
Naturally the album has its weaknesses, like 'Out Of Nowhere' - a daft track that just sounds plain weird after the non-stop cheeriness of the whole album. I'm not even sure that the heavy guitar break on 'New Project' was necessary, it always wakes me up when I'm trying to drift off. But these are minor blemishes on an unabashedly happy, bright and summery record that offers something a little different. If you want a walk in the sunshine, or you're driving home on a Friday, put this on, and you'll get home in a defiantly pleasant mood.
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on 10 April 2003
That's how you sum up a debut album with as much life, humour, and originality as this.
The comparisons to Pavement, Beta Band and Coldplay don't really do Vehicles&Animals justice. But that's because Athlete are very hard to describe.
The songs shift direction - one minute classic indie, the next 80's casio, into hip-hop and back home for a rabble-rousing feel good anthem. But this isn't mad experimental schizo-pop, it's a surprising, fun and entertaining approach. And most importantly -it really works.
Stand out tracks include the theremin punctuated New Project, riot-inspired sunshine-filled You Got The Style and the utterly beautiful sing-along You Know.
In the indie music industry currently dominated by garage rock and blues (not that there's anything wrong with that) this is one of the most refreshing alternatives around.
If you don't have a smile on your face after listening to this then there's little hope for you.
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on 17 January 2004
If you're looking for an album you can play when you're on your own and pick apart instrument by instrument, bar by bar then this is it. If you're looking for an album you can wack on at a party and get everyone dancing then this is it. If you just want some nice background music when some mates are round then this is it. There just isn't another album as versatile as this, and yet it's no jack of all trades, it performs excellently in every setting.
All the tracks are highly melodic with choruses that you'll be singing all day. Somehow the Athlete boys have managed to blend musical genius with a style everyone can enjoy, a very wise commerical move! But while the songs are all brilliantly written and dangerously catchy it's the keys and synth that set this band apart from the rest. It's the most interesting music you'll have heard in a long time, with strange sounds all over the place but used in a way that doesn't make it sound messy or over complicated and you'll never lose sight of that underlying melody that accompanies all the songs. Joel Potts' vocals are just as catchy with the cockny accent being used to full effect and if you're not careful you'll start singing with one after hearing this! My personal favourite track is "Shake those Windows" but this really is an album where 12 different people could have 12 different favourite tracks and they'd all be right. Not one weak track. Brilliant stuff.
You're collection isn't complete without this album, can't wait for the next one.
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on 31 August 2005
I bought this after I bought Tourist and am now contradicting myself by saying this one is so much better. It's not trying to be something else like Tourist is, and whereas Tourist is a good album, Vehicles and Animals is one you will not want to stop listening to.
Anyone who likes good music will love this album, and if you like Athlete's latest offerings but thought they were all a bit samey after a while then try this and it will be a breath of fresh air. I hope on Athlete's 3rd album they return to this formula which is so uplifting and a million times better than their just-a-tiny-bit-dreary-and-boring new style.
Every track is good, but stand-outs for me are:
The catchy, feel-good El Salvador
Beautiful - slow, anthemic, "beautiful"
You Got the Style - impossibly catchy
New Project - a lovely melody and every time you hear the opening line you will have to sing along
Vehicles and Animals - The Title track of the album has a beautiful message, fantastic lyrics and a sing along gorgeous chorus.
Out of Nowhere - quite upbeat but very different to the rest of the album
Dungeness - Great chorus
Le Casio - the perfect ending to the album.
without realising I have listed almost the entire album so there you are, buy it! Even if you haven't liked songs like "Wires" although at times you can hear the resemblance in this album, you should still try it because it's completely different.
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on 13 May 2003
While music needs the depth of bands like Radiohead and while it needs the raw rock 'n' roll from bands like The White Stripes, music also needs bands that can put a smile on your face. In fact in a post 9/11 world filled with doom and gloom it is bands like this that we need more of and it is a band we have in Athlete.
Vehicles and Animals won't win the Mercury Music Prize, in fact it probably won't win many prizes, but if you're having a BBQ, drinking a few beers and watching the sun go down, then its an album that can fill you with warmth and leave you with a 'every things just fine' feeling inside.
Stand out track on the album is the superbly catchy 'You Got The Style'. If it’s the last song you here before leaving the house then I guarantee you'll be humming it all day long. The singles all standout and you can see that from one album Athlete have already acquired a number of crowd sing-a-long favourites.
Athlete's appeal not only lies in their music but also in the fact that they are apart from all the pretentiousness that seems to surround so much of the new rock circus being championed everywhere. Athlete don't look cool, they don't act cool but in Vehicles & Animals they have one of the coolest albums you'll here this summer.
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on 11 April 2003
I had been waiting for this album ever since seeing Athlete live while supporting Mansun and I am very pleased to say I have not been dissapointed.
This album has an overall feel good factor to it with light pop/rock tunes that are ideal for listening to on a sunny day. There is a range of styles with similarities to Travis, Stereophonics plus some 70's/80's influences all present and correct.
El Salvador is a perfect start to the album, forcing you to sing along to the catchy chorus, Westside and One Million keep the mellow mood going, Shake Those Windows is a track worthy of being a single with a more uptempo beat. You Got the Style was a single last year and joins El Salvador as a catchy sing along song for a sunny day. Another track worth a special mention is Dungeness, I applaud any band for recognising such a unique location, especially as I live nearby, and it captures the mood of the whole album. All tracks on the CD are quality and I wouldn't label any of them as filler or duff songs.
Vocally, lead singer Joel Pott has the softness of Travis's Fran Healy mixed with the sarf London twang of Blur's Danom Albarn - not since Damon has anyone dropped their T's and F's to greater effect - Out of Nowhere come across as "ow' a nowear". The music is a mix of a typical three piece band mixed with wierd syth/keyboard sounds, all lightly mixed to create a refreshing sound which can change mood halfway through a song and back again all in the space of 3 1/2 minutes.
I would end with quoting from the track 'Beautiful' - "Ooooh, this is beautiful, got to soak it up, I've got to soak it up..."
Indeed, you must.
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on 14 October 2005
Are you one of the people who have just recently followed Athlete and looking at V&A and deciding whether or not to buy it. If You Are, BUY IT!!!!!
This album in my opinion is slightly better than Tourist and is a totally different album.
This is catchy Quirky Pop at its greatest . You will be singing ths ongs for ages.
Every song at first sounds familiar but when you listen properly you can hear the great talent these guys have!!!
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on 7 April 2003
Yes it's here! I have been waiting for this album for over a year now...waiting and waiting. And after seeing them twice I had never been more ready for an album to be released.
It's a complete and utter work of indie-rock genius capturing a range of different sounds, from the delicate heartfelt "You Know" to the upbeat "Westside", both highlights of the album.
I've always had a feeling about Athlete, as i have done with many other bands that have gradually risen to stardom, their sounds captures the feeling of summer in a unique way that I cant event begin to explain and this album will almost certainly be the soundtrack to mine.
I truly believe that this is a groundbreaking album, incorporating the classic sounds associated with the indie genre with a more electronic "casio" sound. This adds something to every single song, and is particularly noticeable in the slower, light songs, which still include the odd burst of vocal or instrument glee so commonly shown by Athlete.
I do think that Athlete tend to grow on people, and I for one have had plenty of time for them to grow on me before this album was released. All I would say is that if you don't love what you hear the first couple of times, give them a chance, because they will break through your shell and into your heart.
"You are loved, and you know you are."
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on 5 August 2003
This album was a long time coming - like other reviewers here I first heard Athlete on London's XFM and then waited well over a year for the album to eventually come out. Frustrating though the wait was, it was most certainly worth it. Listening to this album puts me in mind of the first time I heard The Stone Roses - Athlete has the same sing-along-a quality that the early Roses stuff had, combined with haunting vocals and (incredibly) catchy tunes. And like 'The Stone Roses,' it's still sounding fresh three months later. There can be no higher recommendation in my book.
Part of me was hoping that this album would be one of those underground delights that only a select few 'in the know' types had - but recent TV advertising has put paid to that. And I suppose that's no bad thing. Go out and buy it and make these guys a roaring success, for the sake of the future of the British music industry. Can't wait for more.
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on 11 September 2004
I cannot over-hype this album. The pure magic of athlete brings a smile to your face when you're listening...

I normally prefer harder rock to this and first thought athlete's soft rock/indie rock would be too dull for my taste. How i was wrong! There is something special about this band that is hard to describe but very apparent when listening to it. I particularly love the way they seem to experiment on each track, which all have their individual brilliance.
I think the best tracks are probably: New project, out of nowhere, shake those windows and you got the style. However, every single one is well worth a listen.
This is one of my favourite EVER albums and it is worth every penny.
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