Well, who would have thought that? After breaking out from obscurity to some better, more lighted shores with their last album, Train managed to land another great record with their 6th studio album California 37. I was very, VERY worried when I heard that they started on a new album way back then. ‘Cause Murphy sez that there is a great risk for the follow on productions to fall into the hands of the Lord of Darkness and never return.
But here, I feel the sunny warmth of California on my skin – a very pleasant surprise. Even if Pat Monahan is actually not from CA, he is from Erie, Pennsylvania (the provincial town sitting right on the lake of the same name) and officially resides (LOL) in the beautiful state of Washington.
Surfing on the sunny side of music, Train created another great, light and airy rock album with California 37 that really gets to you real quick. Not heavy fare and not meant to be neither. You do feel this new #yolo attitude of the band and the positive energy they put into creating this. Whilst they were not able to replicate their smasher Hey, Soul Sister from Save me, San Francisco, they nevertheless managed to catapult another one of their tracks to single stardom status and into the charts. Well, who would have thought that!
And again playing to their strength to transform personal emotion into good tunes and doing so without rendering it too overwhelming. And ‘Train‘ again managed to keep the cheese at a bearable level, whereas songs like ‘Bruises’ – featuring Ashley Monroe – cruise very closely to doom in that respect.
The album steps right into the groove with their first track This’ll be My Year. Some sort of life story of someone – I reckon it is Pat ‘s- singing to his love. Then followed by Drive By, another friggin’ hit – it was in the billboard top 10 of quite a few countries around the globe and went triple platinum in North America and double platinum in Australia. I really love that one.
The quiet and dark, dark humor of 50 Ways to Say Goodbye really knocked me off my chair laughing – but beware, there is a large portion of teenage style wits in there; not sure if this really fits a serious rock band and not everybody’s cup of tea. But funk that! Speaks to my dark soul.
Mermaid, different theme – a girl met on the beach. Apparently Pat’s love – but still oozing that dark mirth coming bubbling up through their song and again very well done. On the emotional side, the slow ballad When the Fog Rolls In is very good. Were it not for the typical Gregg Wattenberg cheesiness that crept into that one. But still good – it even features (some sort of) a guitar solo. Well, yeah!
Some fillers crept into California 37 nevertheless, the first being We Were Made for This and this is a pity. To be Loved is the second one in this production. Not bad, but not good neither – neither here nor there as they say. And they overdid it somewhat with their urge at nice-nice, kind of whitewashed songs – whereas they have had some very black, but kind of adolescent humor creeping into their tunes. There is not a morsel of real grouch in there.
But then perhaps this is good – feel good music after all, right? Needless to say that this is light-years away from albums like Drops of Jupiter and the likes. Some of the reviewers suggest that this will be their downfall. They may have veered away from their more rocky path to stray into pop territory a bit too far. Maybe inciting the wrath of the pop gods that dwell in the semidarkness of rosy sweetness and dripping, colored smoothies.
Now, here’s another one to Train with California 37. A catchy, kind of groovy friggin’ record that keeps you breathless for some moments. One step up from their last one that was already surprisingly good. I could love it from beginning to end. If only there weren’t any fillers and they did not go over board with cheeky song writing somewhat.
And a word of caution: Producing two hit albums in a row leaves me wondering how the next is going to look like. Do we dare hoping? Or perhaps I should start putting the crash helmet and body armor on for what is coming next. Who knows – if things seem too good to be true they usually are, normally. And for the life of me I do not see them succeeding with another album of the same kind.
Find out if RockmusicRaider’s prediction in his role as world-renowned music psychic came true for Train‘s follow-on record Bulletproof Picasso.
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