Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ath.Lon. - The Fifth Labour of Marsheaux

Having finished with my posts concerning "A Broken Frame", it is now time to turn my attention to "Ath.Lon", the fifth album by Marsheaux. And if you're wondering why this post is titled "The fifth labour of Marsheaux" this is because its title, to us Greeks brings to mind the word "athlos" which means "feat" and is the word used to describe the twelve labours of Hercules if you're familiar with Greek mythology. However, this title was chosen in order to signify two cities: Athens and London. You see, one half of Marsheaux lives in Athens, while the other half is based in London. To us computer geeks though, the title also brings to mind the Athlon processor.
We got our first taste of the album with the single "Safe Tonight" which was premiered back in April on the Auxiliary Magazine web site
This was soon released as a CD single and then the album was announced. It was released on vinyl, CD and as a 2CD box which came out a month after the standard edition. Needless to say, I went for the last one, even if that meant a month long wait. After all it contained a bonus EP with 4 extra tracks! Meanwhile we were treated to a video from UNDO Records giving us a glimpse of its production process.
When the album finally arrived, I was in for a surprise: I had work to do!
I had to fold the box myself, as the note that came with my order informed me. This was because there were complaints that the box had arrived damaged with some orders. So I spread everything on the table and got ready. 
And in case you were wondering, no, there was no mobile phone included in the package! I had this with me logged on to YouTube in order to watch the special video those nice people at UNDO Records had uploaded, showing us how to fold the box.

I must admit I got quite confused with the video, I thought that the box was being folded too fast and I couldn't see very clearly what was happening, even in HD (Maybe we should ask for the next video to be uploaded in 4K! :LOL:). However, by watching it several times and with a little guesswork I finally managed to do it. Not only that, but I realized there was enough space in there for my "Safe Tonight" single!
I was now ready to listen to it. I could have listened to it even before it arrived if I wanted to since Marsheaux had posted all the tracks on SoundCloud. However, being old school I wanted to wait until I had the box on my hands (and folded of course!)
The opening track "Burning" wasn't an immediate favourite I'm afraid. I thought it might grow on me with repeated listenings. And I was right. As I am listening to it right now while writing this review I'm actually not just liking it, but loving it!
When I saw the title of the next track on SoundCloud ("Like A Movie") my first thought was "Saint Etienne". What was happening? Were Marsheaux covering Saint Etienne? No, not really. But Saint Etienne have a song called "Like A Motorway" and another one called "Pale Movie". And this fact made this strange connection in my brain. It's easily my favourite track on the album and I can certainly imagine Saint Etienne covering it (I can also imagine Marsheaux covering "Pale Movie" for that matter).

The title of "Now You Are Mine" reminds me of New Order's "Regret" (no need to explain this any further now, do I?), a song Marsheaux have in fact actually covered. Needless to say, the song doesn't sound like New Order, but it's still one of my favourites.
"Strong Enough" is simply brilliant, probably because of its catchy hook and is followed by "Safe Tonight" with which I was already familiar.
Now it seems that in every one of the last three Marsheux albums there is a song that reminds us that they come from Greece. On "Lumineux Noir" it was "Summer" (probably their best song ever, battling for this title with "I Dream Of A Disco"). On "Inhale" it was "August Day". On "Ath.Lon." it's "Mediterranean".
I liked the song title "Let's Take A Car" even before I heard the song itself. That's probably because it brought to mind road trips and this is indeed what the song is about.
Finally the album comes to an end with the appropriately titled "The Beginning Of The End". But does it? Not really, since there are four extra songs on the bonus CD (one of which, "Treasure" is simply brilliant) and a bonus song "Butterflies" on the download version. If, like me you always buy the physical versions and if (again like me) you don't have iTunes, you can buy the song on other sites like 7Digital or BeatPort.
And now to answer the important question "Is it any good?" Of course it is, you must have figured that out by reading this review. In fact it's probably the best album I've heard all year. It is of course difficult to top "Lumineux Noir" but I think I like it better than "Inhale". Which reminds me of a review I read about the latter, a good review in fact, which said that most of the songs were mid-tempo and this was probably because of the Greek financial crisis. A strange theory, but if it is true, then if one day Marsheaux release an album full of ballads we will know that we're in deep trouble! Thankfully "Ath.Lon." is not that album...

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