If you’re in need of a getaway and have thirty minutes to spare, you’re in luck. Athletics’ sophomore effort Who You Are Is Not Enough is a five-part album here to take your mind on a vacation. A conceptual record about the quest to find oneself, Who You Are Is Not Enough transcends genres to place these New Jersey natives into a niche of their own. Athletics’ gorgeous blend of post rock, ambient, and post hardcore results in an album that is nothing short of breathtaking.
Five tracks, simply titled with the roman numerals I through V, run beautifully into one another, not meant to be listened to as five individual tracks but as one unified musical experience. If it weren’t for the brief pauses between each track, this album could easily be one fluid song. Each track seems to follow the pattern of starting out with soft, melodic guitars before slowly picking up and leading into the passionate vocals and eloquent lyrics found at the song’s halfway point.
Hard-hitting and thought-provoking, the album’s lyrics are pure poetry. I, the first track, introduces us to the struggle that we hear about throughout the remainder of the album: “Seeing this makes it easier to fall, and I can’t wait for the end of it all / You’re breathing softly but so much stronger on your own / No one, now, can take you from your home / Stay / All we are is sinking endlessly.” The words are first delivered softly but eventually break into screams of emotion layered over increasingly intense soundscapes, high-pitched guitars, and contrasting peaceful piano melodies. Each powerful lyric is surrounded by lengthy, intricate musical interludes, allowing the vocals to breathe and the imagination to wander.
Produced by Kevin Dye of Gates and mastered by Gregory Dunn of Moving Mountains, Who You Are Is Not Enough manifests obvious indie and post rock influences from both groups. There are several points in the album, however, where comparison could be drawn just as easily to bands like Manchester Orchestra and Brand New. It is this unique blend of other influences that sets Athletics apart from their post rock predecessors, to whom they will inevitably be compared.
Whether you are a fan of any of the aforementioned groups or not, Who You Are Is Not Enough is a must-listen. Lovers of any type of music will be able to appreciate the sophisticated artistry of this release. A sophomore success for Athletics, Who You Are Is Not Enough delivers a refreshing dose of post rock with a delicately dark and beautiful edge.