Train returns with fine album

[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Album Review[/pullquote3]

BY SOPHIE AFDHAL ’15
Staff Writer

This week saw the release of a new album, California 37, by the American band Train. Train was formed in 1994 and is currently comprised of a trio of artists: Pat Monahan on vocals, Jimmy Stafford on guitar and vocals, and Scott Underwood on drums and percussion. California 37 is the band’s sixth album and has received Grammy recognition.

Particularly notable is their album Drops of Jupiter, which was released in 2001 and went double platinum. This was the album that skyrocketed Train to fame with the titular song, “Drops of Jupiter” earning them two Grammy awards. Overall, the band has sold over 14 million copies of all their singles and records.

California 37 was released on April 17, but the singles “Drive By” and “Feels Good at First” were out before in anticipation of the release. “Drive By” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached platinum in Australia and New Zealand. The song has an enjoyable upbeat tempo, so it makes sense that it has received great success worldwide. The other single, “Feels Good at First,” was an exclusive iTunes release for those who had already pre-ordered California 37.

The album, while not necessarily of the same caliber as their past works, is a good performance with enjoyable variety, and the 12 tracks are filled with some beautiful lyrics. Pat Monahan, who writes all the lyrics for Train, has once again proved his talent at writing and has shown forth a good effort with his always-soothing and powerful voice. Many of the songs contain good depth and are thought-provoking, which is an improvement over some past songs.

California 37 does not, however, compare to some of Train’s past albums. Drops of Jupiter was a much stronger overall album than California 37, and listeners who are familiar with the band will likely recognize that. This is not intended to undercut the performance of the latest album, but it is still notable. Drops of Jupiter is very strong lyrically and had a soulful novelty that outranks California 37.

The tracks are great individually and combine to make an overall positive album. The track “This’ll Be My Year” gives a lovely social commentary on the past decade or so; it runs through each year and highlights how important cultural events affect the singer. Pat Monahan did an excellent job of condensing a long period of time into a three-and-a-half minute song that flows very well. My personal favorite track is “Bruises,” which features Ashley Monroe, an American country artist, and the duet is apparently based on the country-song feel of “Bruises.” Her vocals and Monahan’s mix very well and provide a pleasant sound, that, when mixed with insightful lyrics, create a great song.

The title track, “California 37,” is not the strongest on the album but is a solid performance nonetheless. It has evidently been sound-mixed and autotuned, which results in a less realistic sound that doesn’t really fit with the style of the album. The other tracks are much more characterized by folk-rock style and clear, soulful singing. The weakest track is easily “Mermaid.” The lyrics are very trite with a chorus that includes, “To an island so remote only Johnny Depp has been to it before.” That line is comical and makes it very difficult to give the song any weight.

The album overall is an excellent work. The folk-rock style and mellow sound make it a great addition to Train’s repertoire. It was well-done, and many listeners will be excited to hear what this trio produces next.

Questions? Email Sophie at sophie.afdhal@fandm.edu.

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