I Like Trains

The Shallows

Written by: TL on 30/07/2012 11:29:27

As the adventures of summer gradually give way to intense stress as my thesis deadline advances, I am admittedly not having it easy, trying to find time to man the guns here at RF as well, but wanting to send at least some smoke signals to let you all know I'm alive, here's a quick review - hopefully the first in a row to come these next days - of "The Shallows", the third album by Leeds quintet I Like Trains.

This album is my first encounter with the band, and right off the bat I'm surprised to see the relatively serious artwork and hear the sombre tones of the band's music, considering their naive and innocent sounding bandname. You could have expected that a band named I Like Trains would play some sort of light hearted indie pop, but you would be wrong then, because these guys deal in a dark melancholia with the mid-to-up tempo beats mostly weighed down by contemplative synth and guitar melodies, giving the whole thing a calm feel. Combine these sounds with the low tone and characteristic delivery of the vocals, and it all sounds more than a little reminiscent of The National.

This of course is no shame, given how good The National are, but it is of course also no surprise that a relatively small British band like I Like Trains can't quite soar to the same level of longlasting songwriting. In that department, "The Shallows" is a deceptive disc, because on one hand it hasn't left me with many songs in my head to draw me back to the album, but then when I have eventually come back anyway, the album has continually surprised me with how well it does at enveloping and engaging the listener with its dense moods.

Tracks 1 through 3 all set the stage well, with especially the latter two, "Mnemosyne" and "The Shallows", making a strong impression, just as does the later trio of "The Hive", "The Turning Of The Bones" and "Reykjavik", each of which sport refrains that have potential to get in your head after a few listens. Granted the variations across these tracks and across the disc in general might be subtle, but on the other hand the sustained feel of the music is consistently fascinating. As such "The Shallows" is, if not a record of typical hits and highlights, then at least a record of quite immersive music, and one that should appeal to all fans of gloomy, thoughtful indie bands like The National, The Twilight Sad or Chapel Club.


Download: Mnemosyne, The Shallows, The Hive
For The Fans Of: The National, The Twilight Sad, Chapel Club
Listen: facebook.com/iLiKETRAiNSmusic

Release Date 07.03.2012

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