15 October 2014

Train - Bulletproof Picasso


You know, it is time for something a little poppy and rocking in one requested album.  This time I have been asked to give my views on the American pop rock act called Train, an act who I only know through a few singles which have made the UK top 40 - "Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)", "Hey, Soul Sister" and "Drive By".  Now, from what I have heard of their stuff it is similar to Journey, Boston and (to a lesser extent) Bon Jovi.  It is that sort of thing that can be put on in the background and not offend quite a few people, but for that reason it will have a lot of people up in arms (the same sort of people who love Journey, Boston, etc...) and that has always confused me.  To be honest with you, I have no real hatred or love for this band and their product so far; but I would be a liar if I said I was not interested in what this would sound like for this main reason - it is the return of the multiple producer album!!! The curse of most records in the eyes of ATTIWLTMOWOS!!! But we will discuss this later on in the review, now it is time for the music.

Starting the album is "Cadillac, Cadillac" is the first song of the album and this song has not been released as a single at the time of the blog being wrote, but I would not be surprised if they did release it in the future.  It has that easily accessible, user friendly interface that would be perfect for modern radio; it is sugary, candy and sickly sweet.  But it is also likeable, as I have said before I do like quality pop songs and this ticks all the right buttons.  Next up is "Bulletproof Picasso" which continues the pattern placed down by "Cadillac, Cadillac", you have a sing-along chorus and musically an upbeat number that will have their fans punching the air in joy.  Much like "Cadillac, Cadillac", it is easy on the ears and whilst it is a syrup like as anything that has come out of America in years, it is still better than anything that Maroon 5 have ever done.  Third track "Angel In Blue Jeans", this was another single that has been released from the album; the video has Hollywood actor Danny Trejo and it is loosely based on a spaghetti western.  When you hear the song, it will make sense; the song has that western leaning much like the one used by Muse for "Knight Of Cydonia", it plays on our memories of modern western movies.  It is a decent number; the diminishing returns are starting to grip the records as it is not as interesting as the first two numbers.  The fourth track is called "Give It All" is more laid back that the opening numbers, it feels like it is aiming to be this generations "With Or Without You"; but sadly it does not have any of the charm or interest of the original.  It makes Richard Marx should like Napalm Death, seriously guys - that number is a song that should have stayed in the rehearsal studio.

Next is "Wonder What You’re Doing With The Rest Of Your Life" which has the vocal talents of Marsha Ambrosius, a UK born soul singer who has been making a name for herself in America.  This has a late 80's/early 90's feeling and sounds a bit like Amy Grant or the Counting Crows when they covered "Big Yellow Taxi".  Not offensive, playful almost but it will make some people (the kind who do not understand or like modern pop) to throw their radio off the wall in a fit of rage.  "Son Of A Prison Guard" starts with a distant whistle and develops into a tale about the story of love better a lady and a prison guard.  After the last lump of sugar, you have to say this is a more serious number in a way (in a given sense of the word serious); it is decent, if unspectacular number to add to the album.  "Just A Memory" is another love song (I guess that is Train's calling card), this song has filler wrote all over it; but it is once again performed very well and I still find myself tapping my foot along to it.  "I'm Drinkin' Tonight" is a serious song about the man who has fought the good fight and needs a good drink to remove those memories.  This sounds to over dramatic for its own good, the sentiment behind it may be a warning to show that getting rat-arsed does not wipe out the memories; but it takes itself too serious for its own good.

"I Will Remember" is another more serious number, this time about love ....much like all of the above if we are really honest.  However, unlike "I'm Drinkin' Tonight" with its 'I AM MAN, I MUST DEAL WITH MY SHIT IN A MANLY WAY' bullshit, "I Will Remember" is better in every possible way.  There is some stupid reference point - manly drinking, comparing love to drugs, but it improves the mood of the album straight away after "I'm Drinkin' Tonight".  Next is "The Bridge" which has a Bruno Mars flavour a-la "Locked Out Of Heaven" vibe about, making it have the Atlantic R&B/Motown feeling.  This song does not really hit the highest of other songs on the album, it is going for that retro vibe which is very popular at the moment and the finished product does not match other songs by other artist that are currently available.  The penultimate song is "Baby, Happy Birthday", this is their next attempt for "Drops Of Jupiter" and to a certain extent it succeeds.  It is has that sort of sing-along vibe that "Drops...” has, but it does not have that universal link which its predecessor gets whenever it is played.  Not saying it is a bad song at all, just not as good as other songs by the same band.  Ending the album is "Don't Grow Up So Fast", an acoustic lead track to bring the audience home.  If I am honest, the last two tracks should have been swapped as "Don't Grow Up So Fast" is a filler trying to end an album; thus it ends the album on a disappointing note.

I think that a few of my regular readers might be expecting me to unleash a river of scorn and bile on this record; well I cannot really do that.  I find it to be a decent, but flawed record; yes there is so much sugar in the record that it needs to come with a health warning that it may rot your teeth, yes it is lowest common denominator community rock for the masses which is aimed at shopping market music buyer, yes it is chewing gum for the ears.  But sometimes you want something simple and easy; you cannot listen to albums of saxophones having angry sex every single hour of the day.  It is by no means an exciting album, I cannot say that; but it is solid and dependable. Whilst is has multiple producers, it is not really a factor as the band have such a sound that you cannot really tell the difference in production style.  Basically if these guys were an ice cream flavour, they would be vanilla - it is not the most adventurous, but it does the job for most people.  If you want your rock from a simpler age, but with a modern twist; this is the album for you.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Cadillac, Cadillac

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Train website here - this is the band website, not a website for the locomotive vehicle

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is the link to the album on Deezer for users of this service

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