The Optimist (Anathema album)

The Optimist is the eleventh album by rock band Anathema. The album was released on 9 June 2017, through Kscope,[2] three years after their last release, Distant Satellites. The idea for The Optimist originated from the cover artwork of the album A Fine Day to Exit (2001).[2] The coordinates from the first track are pointing to Silver Strand beach in San Diego County, the location that is shown on the cover of A Fine Day to Exit. The Optimist won "Album of the Year" at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards.[3] It is the final album featuring bassist Jamie Cavanagh before he left the band a second time in 2018. It was the band’s second UK Top 40 success, peaking at #34.

The Optimist
The Optmist (Anathema album).png
Studio album by
Released9 June 2017
StudioAttica Audio in Donegal, Ireland, Castle Of Doom studios in Glasgow
GenreAtmospheric rock, post-progressive[1]
ProducerTony Doogan
Anathema chronology
Distant Satellites
The Optimist


The album reportedly follows the concept of the band's 2001 release A Fine Day to Exit. According to band members Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh, the idea came from writing a narrative, culminating on what must have happened with the guy from that album cover. Vincent commented that "The guy who disappeared – you never knew what happened to him. Did he start a new life? Did he succumb to his fate? It was never explained. The opening track title is the exact coordinates for Silver Strand beach in San Diego – the last known location of The Optimist – shown on the cover of A Fine Day to Exit".[4] The covers of both albums also show its narrative connections, as the former contains a car in an empty beach during the day, and the latter a car in a road at night.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
Drowned in Sound8/10[7]
Kerrang     [5]
Metal Hammer     [9]
sputnikmusic     [10]
The Skinny     [11]

The album received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 80 based on eight reviews, indicating "generally favorable".[5] Thom Jurek, reviewing for Allmusic, was highly positive about the release. He praised instrumental and vocal work on the album, as well the expansion of new elements in their music since the release of We're Here Because We're Here, "[...] widening a scope that would include more lush textures and atmospheres and result in some of their finest songs. Here Anathema have brought the experiments of the last seven years to a culmination of sorts." He then gave the album a score of 4 and a half starts out of 5.[6] Jordan Blum of PopMatters was also very positive about the release, also praising the overall evolution of the band's sound, stating that "The Optimist isn’t Anathema’s finest effort yet, but again, that’s more of a compliment to their other releases this decade than it is a knock against this one." He also cited the vocal duo of Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, the lyricism and the arrangements as highlights of the album, giving it a score of 8 out of 10.[8] The diversity of elements, although praised by most reviewers, was criticized by some publishers. The Skinny's Pete Wild commented that, despite all the elements throughout their career, the band still failed to leave its mark on a mainstream audience. He concluded his review saying that it is an album for "our doomy times and is perhaps one best listened to at night, with a stiff drink in your hand and a serious expression on your face.", and gave it a score of 2 out of 5 stars.[11]


Best of the year (2017) lists
Publisher Accolade Rank
AXS TV 10 Best Rock Albums of 2017 1[12]
Classic Rock Top 50 Albums of 2017 5[13]
Metal Hammer Top 100 Albums of 2017 15[14]
The Independent Top 20 Rock and Metal Albums of 2017 19[15]

Track listingEdit

1."32.63n 117.14w" (intro)Daniel Cavanagh, Vincent Cavanagh, John Douglas1:16
2."Leaving It Behind"V. Cavanagh, Douglas4:28
3."Endless Ways"D. Cavanagh5:49
4."The Optimist"D. Cavanagh5:37
5."San Francisco" (instrumental)D. Cavanagh, V. Cavanagh4:59
6."Springfield"D. Cavanagh5:49
7."Ghosts"D. Cavanagh4:17
8."Can't Let Go"V. Cavanagh, Douglas5:00
9."Close Your Eyes"D. Cavanagh3:38
10."Wildfires"D. Cavanagh5:39
11."Back to the Start" (the main song ends at around 7:30, and a hidden song begins after 3 minutes of silence.)V. Cavanagh, Douglas11:42
Total length:58:14



Chart (2017) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[16] 37
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[17] 44
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[18] 53
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[19] 23
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[20] 22
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[21] 10
French Albums (SNEP)[22] 70
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[23] 17
Italian Albums (FIMI)[24] 41
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[25] 7
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[26] 50
Scottish Albums (OCC)[27] 27
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[28] 35
UK Albums (OCC)[29] 34


  1. ^ "Stargazing Post-Progressive Rockers Anathema Return". 7 December 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Anathema reveals new album details The Prog Report, March 24, 2017
  3. ^ "Marillion, Anathema, Steve Hackett among Progressive Music Award winners". 14 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  4. ^ [1] Team Rock, March 24, 2017
  5. ^ a b c "The Optimist Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "The Optimist - Anathema". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  7. ^ Miller, Gavin (6 June 2017). "Album Review: Anathema - The Optimist". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b Blum, Jordan (6 June 2017). "Anathema: The Optimist". PopMatters. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Anathema - The Optimist album review". 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2017-06-02.
  10. ^ "Anathema: The Optimist". sputnikmusic. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  11. ^ a b Wild, Pete (5 June 2017). "Anathema: The Optimist". sputnikmusic. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  17. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  18. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201724 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  20. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Anathema: The Optimist" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums – SNEP (Week 24, 2017)". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  23. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  24. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist". Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  25. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  26. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist". Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  28. ^ " – Anathema – The Optimist". Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  29. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2017.