Review Summary: Athletics take the beautiful production sheen and brooding storytelling of post rock and combine it with the punchy drums and soaring vocals of post hardcore, creating a dreamy atmosphere that also boasts incredible immediacy.
It's interesting how the meshing of two separate genres can yield such strong results. It reinvigorates the music and allows for the listener to hear elements not normally put together, placing the familiar alongside the unexpected. Athletics take the beautiful production sheen and brooding storytelling of post rock and combine it with the punchy drums and soaring vocals of post hardcore, creating a dreamy atmosphere that also boasts incredible immediacy. Why Aren't I Home? is an interesting animal in that respect, taking elements that should clash and combining them in a startlingly natural way. Lush cinematic instrumentals segue into ethereal choruses that always retain the grandiosity that post rock build-ups hint at, and it's a wonder that Athletics are able to twist genre conventions so easily since this is their first full length endeavor.
Title track "Why Aren't I Home?" quickly acclimates the listener with all of the elements that the band incorporates, as a mini-crescendo builds to vocalist/guitarist Garrett Yaeger showing the full extent of his voice. The beauty of Athletics' formula is that while they adhere to the same peak-to-valley soundscape rulebook that most post rock bands do, they are also able to use the inclusion of vocals and more aggressive influences to create a new identity within each song. "See You On the Other Side" shows the post hardcore side of them, employing hypnotizing guitarwork and an almost constant vocal presence. This differs greatly from "Fairview" in that the band adopts a much more somber approach, and the exclusion of Yaeger's powerful singing gives the listener the respite needed to keep this record a very personal listen. The strength here is that from one track to the next, Athletics allows the listener to experience different facets of their style without there being a disconnect in the continuity of Why Aren't I Home?. The constant internal sadness that the lyrics and instruments both adeptly illustrate allow for the smooth transitions and keep the concept intact.
With all of the praise heaped on the album at this point, Athletics do make a few missteps here. Some of the songs don't possess the identity necessary to command the listener's attention, and end up making the album seem more monotonous than it actually is. "I Am Withdrawal" suffers from a slow progression to the overwrought concluding shouting of "fall into the sea/bring me to my knees" that borrows a little too much from Thrice vocalist Dustin Kensrue. "It's Night, It's Enough" transitions jarringly from warm, simplistic guitar and pandering vocals to a darker musical passage and gang vocals that may have worked better on two separate songs. As it stands, Athletics hit much more than they miss, and end up creating an album that provides a spark of ingenuity and a fresh take on a genre that was seemingly tapped dry. The beautiful melancholy and fragile human emotions that come to light on Why Aren't I Home? displays the penchant that Athletics has for storytelling, and point to them creating incredible albums for years to come.
Thanks man! I'm not really talking about albums or bands specifically, but rather where the genre kind of migrated due to lack of outside influences. There was a stagnation for quite some time after Explosions got big. Imo of course.
hmmm, i'm kind of not too crazy about how you casually disregard most post-rock and vaguely talk about the evolution of music.
However, what hasn't been said is that all types of music go through the same growing pains in order to evolve into a completely different strain of music.
i mean, i'm 100% sure this has been observed by many a reviewer, just articulated a little less awkwardly (i'm positive 'strain' isn't the word you're looking for). as a general observation, it's fine, i suppose - it's just your claim that it's never been said. also, that second sentence makes your first sentence look pointless in context. it kind of negates your initial observation and it really does seem like a goes-without-saying type of thing, but that's just me.
it's a good review though. you obviously know how to write and you describe pretty much everything nicely. pos
Thanks for the criticism, Gyro. I can see how the intro kind of falls flat and is a little too vague for its own good. I will rewrite it when I get a chance today and maybe bug you to see if it reads better. Intros are my worst nightmare lol.
Thanks man, appreciated as always. I think you could actually get into this even if you aren't a huge fan of post rock. The atmosphere is incredible, and the vocals are pretty prevalent through most of the album. Check out "See You on the Other Side" if you get the chance.
'There isn't too much that can be said about the post rock genre that hasn't already been discussed by detractors and fans alike; the staleness that exists simply cannot be denied even by avid listeners. '
Oh man people saying this every single goddamm post rock review is getting so boring.
Seriously, if every single album review in the genre starts with 'post rock is increasingly stale BUT NOT THIS!' then where's all this stale music everyone goes on about?
I understand where you're coming from on that, JS. I'm actually going to edit that part out in a bit, and rewrite the intro. The argument of "this isn't like all those other bands, I swear!" is monotonous and at this point, irrelevant to the music completely. I fell into the trap because intros are difficult for me to write.