Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Amazon Reviews: Train "California 37"

When You Move Me, Everything Is Groovy
5 Out of 5 Stars

Proving that "Save Me San Francisco" was no fluke, Train roll on with their career's second act with "California 37." They've matured into a first class pop band, wielding hooks alongside an often bizarre sense of humor. Kind of like Maroon 5, but without the teen-idol thing going on. They're even smart enough to self-reference their surprising comeback on the opening song by giving lead singer Pat Monahan the opportunity to give both a history of his life and the evolution of Train in under four minutes, but to thank the band's fans and then do it all without the least bit of irony. "This'll Be My Year" alone would put the album at 4 stars just for compositional value alone.

However, "California 37" has plenty of other charms. There's the twisted "50 Ways to Say Goodbye," in which Monahan cuts down an ex-lover by singing "How could you leave me on Yom Kippur?" The mariachi inspired horns on "Drive By" (a great single, by the way), lift that song into a fun and unusual direction, and the title track again turns to Train's fans and thanks them for being there when the band wasn't in the spotlight.

Relationships are also put to the test, song-wise, including "You Can Finally Meet My Mom," sung as a plaintive love song with a straight face. Country singer Ashley Monroe sings along in a duet about old flames getting back together in "Bruises," made ironic by the fact that both parties are coming down from bad relationships. Train keeps making these very standard sounding pop songs that have crispy tops, so the temptation to call "Highway 37" perfect is awfully close. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. At the very least it's a 4.5 just on the unconventionality of the lyrics and the fact that I've been listening to it for over a year without getting tired of it.


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