Album Review – Train: California 37
Take a pinch of Jack Johnson, a smidgen of John Mayer, a dash of the Red Hot Chillis and a large dollop of Bon Jovi, and the surprisingly awesome result will sound a lot like the latest offering from American pop rock band Train, ‘California 37’. Their new album brings to the music scene an eclectic mix of sounds, and in this case their diverse choices completely pay off.
The lead single from the album, ‘Drive By’ was released back in January, and with its rap-esque verses melting into a quintessential pop chorus it was a fairly successful on the mainstream scene, peaking at number 6 in the UK chart. However as catchy as ‘Drive By’ proved to be (I couldn’t stop humming it for weeks!), it is far from the best track on the album. The second single ’50 Ways to Say Goodbye’, released in June, draws on the heavy beats of a traditional Mexican Mariachi band through its verses, giving off a cheerful and chilled out vibe despite the lyrics which accompany it. The chorus ups the ante, bringing in percussion and increasing the rhythm, making it very playable on the radio, and as I have recently discovered the perfect driving tune! The lyrics bring an element of fun and humour to the song, telling the tale of a young man who has lost his partner, and subsequently he fabricates lies to tell his friends about why she left him, including her being ‘fried getting suntanned’, ‘falling in a cement mixer full of quicksand’ and getting ‘eaten by a lion’. It follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by providing a painfully catchy chorus, complemented perfectly by the verses, which interestingly feature notes not dissimilar to those heard in the title song from ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, perhaps the writers are British theatre fans?
The most inspiring track and my personal favourite has to be ‘This’ll Be My Year’, which in its melodic verses chronicles major events throughout recent years, before breaking into a epic pop rock chorus, paying homage to one of the greats, ‘I stopped believin’, although Journey told me don’t before I call it a day, maybe this’ll be my year’. Of all the tracks, this is definitely the one to scream to after a few drinks, as well as to remind you about all of life’s possibilities.
Throughout the album there is a smattering of other up tempo songs, but special mention has to be made of the title track ‘California 37’, which reminded me strongly of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in their ‘Dani California’ days, and really brought something unique to the album as a whole.
As for the slower tempo songs, ‘When The Fog Rolls In’ is one of the best, but it is the almost-love song ‘Feels Good At First’, a tribute to the universally relatable excitement, confusion and passion of a new relationship, which is the obvious winner. The opening notes are very much like those featured in the Plain White T’s ‘Hey There Delilah’, and I feel would definitely be a hit with fans of artists such as Boyce Avenue and Five for Fighting.
The rest of the track list is just as impressive and varied as those I’ve highlighted, particularly ‘Bruises’ (a duet with Ashley Monroe) which shows country music at its best. The new album really gives the lead singer Patrick Monahan the chance to fully showcase his range and ability; as a result California 37 has the opportunity to blend relaxed and easy going sounds with upbeat overtones, to eventually produce a really brilliant album from this firmly established band which formed all the way back in 1993.