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'Airport Disco' and the Dance of a Solitary Traveler

The British band Athlete often gets accused of riding Coldplay's coattails, but like many unfortunate comparisons, this one is both understandable and wrong. Athlete may seem to draw from Coldplay's formula of impassioned vocals and emotive arrangements. But beneath the hooks and flashy crescendos, there's a fundamental difference.

Athlete tends to focus on the here and now, drawing on specific moments in time and creating slice-of-life images. Singles such as "Hurricane," from the new Beyond the Neighbourhood, rely on a radio-ready chorus, but the group's real talent comes out in other tracks. In "Airport Disco," a dancer is "just a blur of red and yellow," an unlikely reveler in an airport. There's nothing besides the title to indicate a specific location, yet the minimal, staticky opening — complete with a few well-chosen synthesizer notes — perfectly conjures images of an airline gate's empty vinyl seats and the loneliness suffered by a solitary traveler. Even when the song slips into vagueness ("Beautiful world / Can I win you back?"), singer Joel Pott's earnest delivery sells it without a hint of preciousness.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Afton Woodward