Train – California 37 album review

California 37 is the seventh studio release for Train and displays a shift in their sound as they attempt to stay dynamic and relevant in today’s soundscape. Unfortunately, Train, doesn’t quite hit the mark. The overall pop sound of California 37 is well produced and undeniably polished, but there’s also a sense that the album is so desperately attempting to be mass appealing that it makes the whole thing come across as disingenuous.

The album launches with the song This’ll Be My Year, a song of pop-culture references that are strung together against an upbeat sound. The idea is solid and Train is far from the first band to try this, however, one needs look no further than R.E.M. or Billy Joel, though, for more successful versions of this same theme.

After that opening, this album really holds no surprises. The song 50 Ways To Say Goodbye makes interesting use of some mariachi sounds in Train’s obvious nod to the Paul Simon song, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, but even that soon started to feel overly gimmicky. Sing Together is a nice enough tune that brings back the ukulele that earned them a hit with Hey, Soul Sister but nothing that truly stands out. You Can Finally Meet My Mom, is a song that seeks to be sentimental whilst being crammed full of even more pop-culture references and sounds a bit more an echo of the band that brought us Meet Virginia and Drops of Jupiter.

What I do find to be the highlight of this entire album, though, is the song Bruises. Bruises, is a country flavoured rock song featuring Ashley Monroe and, to me, this song is the most honest effort of all the tracks. Strong lyrics, sweet vocals, and a bittersweet story and melody effectively combine into something that I would happily keep on my iPod playlist.

The largest problem with California 37 is that it is Paint-By-Numbers Rock. This is an album that has taken no chances and decided to play it safe. It will settle in amongst all the other pop-rock that is  currently making the rounds. From a band that once had a good southern rock feel, this album was a disappointment.

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