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Closure. An idea that we as humans have created, we crave the idea that something will be resolute. The idea that something can finish being open ended can often terrify most people. Acting as a foreword for their story, the band took 2001’s A Fine Day To Exit to pick up exactly where they had left off. Using the artwork from the record and the coordinates of the photograph taken in Silver Strand Beach where their faceless “man” was last seen and sixteen years later we come to The Optimist.


  1. 32.63N 117.14W
  2. Leaving It Behind
  3. Endless Ways
  4. The Optimist
  5. San Francisco
  6. Springfield
  7. Ghosts
  8. Can’t Let Go
  9. Close Your Eyes
  10. Wildfires
  11. Back To The Start
50:00, Kscope, June 9th 2017

In keeping with the aesthetic of returning to their previous record, cover genius Travis Smith was once more drafted in to draw up a beautiful yet solemn picture. The true elegance of Anathema’s spirit lies in the soulful tones of piano that coat title track “The Optimist”. Complimented by Lee Douglas‘ beautiful female vocals the track works its way in the progression of building on various musical planes. Often vocals following the direction of the orchestration or vice versa it makes for a beautiful sound that could very easily be seen as the bed of a soundtrack to a film, such is the emotional impact.

An amorphous entity, vocals, rhythm and melodies combine to create a beautiful sonic composition. Each piece might appear singular but throughout the track progresses to become one, electronica nuances in instrumental “San Francisco” works perfectly. Followed by single “Springfield” to create essential dynamic that Anathema have always been masterful at. Despite the fact there are so many musical personalities present on the record each are allowed to speak their mind. The arid feel on The Optimist is always there, with instruments never overwhelming the listener and more importantly not boring the listener. The light of “Ghosts” sees Douglas take the reins and does and absolutely exceptional job. In what seems to be growing popularity, the band decided to record the album live.

One of the genius elements behind Anathema is the sense of being able to be totally lost in the band. Components that would make up a perfect bed to a soundtrack, no surprise given that Tony Doogan helmed the production duties. The upbeat din of “Can’t Let Go” gives a likening to a prog take on an indie track. Carrying on the theme of the wandering man, throughout the record there are small sections of the “man” changing radio station as his presumably night drive carries on. The hero of The Optimist is without a doubt the moments of blissful piano, working perfectly with both singers, the subtle notes hit those melancholic chords perfectly forming a sombre blanket in the likes of “Close Your Eyes“. In The Optimist, Anathema have not only found closure of their 2001 effort A Fine Day To Exit but have created an entirely new and exciting chapter this based of the creation of their earlier work whilst forging ahead.

Should I buy this? YES!

Anathema return with elements that build on Distant Satellites, in keeping with previous release A Fine Day To Exit, there is a huge amount for the band to be optimistic about with this brilliant new album.

If you like what you read / heard then you can pick up the record here! 

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