In yonder days of Kays we supported I Like Trains at Cabaret Voltaire. It was actually the first time I met Rich from Gizeh Records as he was working as a guitar tech for them – or something like that, anything to tour eh Rich?! Anyways, they were pretty stunning live. I remember this gig for a number of reasons. Matthew Young from Song By Toad reviewed us at that gig. A very nice review too. It was actually a hilarious review as he was being very funny in it and it spawned the famous t-shirt ‘The Kays Lavelle Were Shit’, which are still in existence I think. I certainly have a couple. Anyways, the point was that that night I was exposed to the full force and intensity of an I Like Trains show. Although at that time I believe they were called iLiKETRAiNS…..thank god they got rid of that way of writing their name!
Their last album ‘Elegies To Lessons Learnt’ really should have propelled the band to a new level. However, it seems that ultimately it has led to them releasing this album on their own, without any label involvement. I can certainly find no evidence of a label. So, it seems that that album, which is brilliant, failed to take them to the level that many, including myself had expected.
The music on that record is dark, brooding, aggressive. It’s a concept album based on tragic historical events and figures, which only adds to the intensity of it. When you see them live, the visuals behind them tell the story of each song. It really is quite something, believe me. So, I was expecting something equally dark, equally atmospheric, equally hard work with this new record. And at times I would say the I Like Trains of the debut record are in evidence, in particular on tracks like ‘Hope Is Not Enough.’ However, this album feels more instantly accessible than it’s predecessor. Even the chorus of ‘Hope Is Not Enough’ feels more like a pop chorus – if that could be possible – than anything that happened on Elegies. This album feels like I Like Trains have matured and perhaps their music has grown in maturity in tandem. I don’t know, that’s just the impression that I get.
Album opener ‘When We Were Kings’ was certainly a surprise. The Explosions In The Sky type guitars to open, and throughout this album, are stunning. There’s a warmth in this record, an undercurrent, that was never apparent on Elegies. Choruses are also in evidence. I’m not sure, there’s just something about the record that feels more instantly accessible without ever being instantly accessible, if that’s possible? I guess what I mean is that it is instantly accessible in terms of I Like Trains, which is not really instantly accessible at all but if you like this band you’ll know what I mean, I hope! The record is still dense, it still needs lots of attention and time. But tracks like ‘Progress Is A Snake’, ‘These Feet of Clay’, and album stand outs ‘Hope Is Not Enough,’ ‘Sea Of Regrets’ and ‘Broken Bones’ highlight a more beautiful side to this band. The darkness sometimes lifts and when it does, it does so in a sea of stunning beauty.
I never thought the words I’d use to describe this record would be beautiful, delicate, gorgeous and stunning. Sure, the elements of darkness are there but ultimately, for me, I Like Trains have produced a simply wonderful second record and, if there’s any justice, one which will propel them to greater heights. Probably not, but if they keep producing music this good I will keep buying their records, that’s for sure.
You can check out I Like Trains here. Enjoy.