Olympians are set to release their second album, ‘Lake Mannion’, on 31 October (buy here). It’s a record that finds the band realising how average they are as people – and how that might actually be OK.
‘We’ll Burn That Bridge When We Come to It’ finds Dan Harvey musing about a time that might not rank as his finest moment: ‘A single pint one Thursday night resolving somewhat inevitably – a Prius middle seat subjected to this full and frank account of my internal organs’ deep repressed feelings expressed as a Rorschach test of stomach fluids’. This is backed by Michael Parkin’s stop-start drums and chanted vocals from the entire band (‘we’ve all had time to reflect, we are not all we could be’) while Dan also reflects on his past: ‘It’s true, the old cliche, humour to push people away’; ‘When was the last time you surprised yourself, pleasant or unpleasantly?’ The second track, ‘Best Laid Plans’, opens with another rhetorical question amidst the mathy chamber pop: ‘Do you hate seeing yourself in old photographs? And being reminded that your weird forced grin and loud jumpers severely lacked the persuasive power that you’d hoped they’d had on us ‘ before going on to capture that feeling when you don’t want to go out but get hit by pangs of jealousy: ‘Inevitably within a week or so I’m scared of missing out, won’t you let me in?’
‘Clean Your Teeth On My Bones’ again reflects on how existing in itself can be tiring and introduces ‘the world’s most needy, least trouble man’ as he reveals ‘why he feels sad’. As the song builds up with drive and purpose, scattergun riffs are thrown in before veering into an unexpected drone-led direction in its final moments. ‘We’re Going to Need a Bigger Bin’ follows as Dan talks about being ‘drawn to the cold, uncaring sea despite sunny forecasts’ and how socialising is becoming increasingly hard work: ‘Now every social function feels like I’m moving Morrissey with puppetry’. There are Casiotone vibes running through ‘Party Boys’, especially in its melancholic opening lines: ‘You’re hiding in the toilet scrolling through your phone for days. You promised you’d show up but you’ve not really brought much to say’. Lead single ‘Simple Things’ is packed with potent guitar hooks and an admission that will strike a chord with many: ‘But now we’re stuck here watching Netflix in grubby pants’.
‘The Old Man and the Sea’ finds Dan discussing how painful it is to see an old school friend you no longer have anything in common with sharing their ‘dumb opinions’ before then reflecting on his own actions: ‘Oh my God, rescue me because I stay up all night scrolling news feeds’. ‘Gathering Dust’ is another song sprinkled with sadness and self-loathing: ‘Cut me off your Christmas list, I’m tired of feeling dull and uninspired. We meet up once a year and talk about the past that is not my style’. Existing in the same emotional, honest and witty space as Stars, this song finds Dan admitting ‘we’re gathering dust’ by doing the same things over and over again as Chris Neil’s bass drives the song towards its final moments: ‘It’s the same every year at the end of the night as we part ways: ‘let’s not leave it so long next time”. The closing ‘Sad Songs’ is a short piece draped in powerful atmospherics and melodic harmonies: ‘When New Year’s done, I’m gonna be someone’. It finishes with a pensive account of how you can apply songs to major moments in your life: ‘They’re all sad songs until you meet someone to mount the pedestal you laid for the one who stole your laserdisc of Independence Day’.
‘Lake Mannion’ is packed with wry and self-depreciating observations on the struggles we all face as we grow older, especially in the modern climate – and backs these up with intelligent melodies and hooks you’ll be humming for days. Dip in!