Review Summary: The Past is Still Present
Athletics are an ambient/indie/post-rock band from New Jersey who plays some very interesting and emotive styles of airy drafts. With the release of their second LP “Who You Are Is Not Enough”, we are taken through some personal and relatable lyrics that touch on feelings of inadequacy and contempt. “I am not enough. I’m not the demons in your lungs. And I am not enough to make amends with life or love. All that was done, you have failed to capture us” are some of the common lyrical passages you will come across which fits the music cohesively. Persistent with its theme, the music is soft and fits mellow moods quite well. At times you’ll hear the common post-rock’esq tremolos that build over a backdrop of soothing minimalistic synths and occasional electronic reverse effects. The vocals fit very well and the use of soft sung moments only adds to the emotions and whether the lyrics touch you or not, it’s hard to deny the important role they play in builds and crescendos. As in the intro track, “I”, the vocalist can be heard blending his voice from soft to a slight yell/scream that parallels the build as distorted guitars jump in after ambient layers progress.
The relatively short runtime of 30 minutes is well fitted as certain musical aspects tend to reach sustainable heights without any other track attempting to supersede the other. The runtime allows for the album to be more cohesive, rather than drawn out track after tracks that goes nowhere, which I thought was a smart choice for this type of music. The longest track “II” takes “Who You Are is Not Enough” the furthest as the middle part seems like it’s going to end, but, well placed soft-melodic guitar licks are re-introduced which allow for a type of progressive nature that lances the silence into a perfect canvas. This allows the vocals and bass guitar to slowly build up to another opportunity to fully impress the choral words of “Speak spoken love, offer nothing from your heart”.
These common slow builds are ever present throughout “Who You Are is Not Enough”. They feel like soft waves that one would feel while floating in a calm ocean with occasional stronger swells that break the monotony. Track “IV” is a good example of this wavering formula but it also adds a bit of a tender feel with staccato guitar plucks that at the same time, feel like it could be raining above your head as your floating, buoyant, in a sea of emotions. The closer “V” follows the same suite but fully uses a piano that favors the reducing-classical side and fits the whole story together as you’re concluding with the words of “Time may heal the deepest wounds, but a severed limb is gone for good. My love died with you. I should have died with you. I would have died for you.” This ending fully solidifies that this album is about the loss of a loved one which I’m sure we can all relate to in one way or another, which also at the same time makes this album rather depressive and there are no real words for hope or furtherance to balance out the melancholy.
“Who You Are Is Not Enough” never tries to be over the top or push musical passages further than it needs to, rather, the mood and feel speaks for itself and the emotions are where this album truly succeeds. The musical approach could have been taken further to make this more enjoyable but at the same time many will feel fully satisfied once they’ve taken the journey from A-Z. Athletics will be known for a band that truly is not afraid to express their deepest inner thoughts as well as moving musical ideas that fit their destinations perfectly.