Posts Tagged ‘I LIke Trains’

Christopher Nosnibor

I Like Trains’ emergence from hibernation may be coinciding with that of the nation, and while it’s perhaps to an extent coincidental, one feels that perhaps it largely isn’t. Their latest reinvention has seemingly come out of nowhere, and if their shift from genre-leading purveyors of songs based on historical events, formed as slabs of tremulous post-rock with shattering crescendos, to something rather less dramatic and more direct came by a certain sense of transition, this is a true bolt from the blue.

Crashing in from nowhere with the stark, synth-heavy and highly-political ‘Truth’ to announce the imminence of new album, Kompromat after a hiatus that had looked dangerously like becoming permanent, it was immediately apparent that I Like Trains haven’t so much evolved as metamorphosised.

The band describe ‘Dig In’ as being ‘probably as lean and direct as we’ve ever been’ and continue: ‘There’s plenty to be angry about at the moment, and this is a pure distillation of that. It’s aimed mostly at the campaign managers and ‘special advisors’ who manoeuvre their people into positions of power with little or no regard for the rules. Never back down. Never apologise. Show no signs of weakness.’

‘Dig In’ has a real attack to it, an urgency that’s new. Over a choppy guitar that’s more Gang of Four than anything even vaguely post-rock, and which is welded to an elastic rhythm section with a driving bass, David Martin growls political agitation. No longer jumbling through his beard, there’s even a hint of Richard Butler in the early years of the Psychedelic Furs in the delivery, and perhaps even hints of Post war Glamour Girls, he casts an elevated eye over the world as is, and it’s sharp incisive.

Old ILiKETRAiNS were formidable. Middle I Like Trains were ace. New I Like Trains, with their newfound edge, right now, feel re-energised and essential.

Gizeh Records – GZH67 – 1st April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Last Harbour aren’t exactly renowned for their prolific output. They may have released six albums, but it’s taken the best part of 17 years, and the gap between the last two albums was a full four years. So, for Paler Cities to follow less than a year after their last long player, the immense Caul, feels like a real step-up in terms of momentum. The 7” single is accompanied by a brace of digital-only tracks, and the quality of the material is both consistent and superlative.

They’ve struck a rich seam of gloomy post-punk folk music, and ‘Paler Cities’ indicates a further evolution, showcasing a new-found stripped back approach to the compositions. A tense, chorus-heavy guitar provides a suitably stark backdrop to K Craig’s intonations of mournful longing delivered in his signature cavernous baritone.

Flipside ‘The Curved Road’ is a brooding, introspective effort which goes deep inside while evoking dark late-night imagery and conjuring psychological drama. The stealthy, almost subterranean, wandering bassline really makes it.

The digital tracks are of an equal calibre: ‘A Better Man’ is beautifully lugubrious and understated, dripping with minor-key violin, and with its chiming guitars and sad-sounding string arrangements, the darkly dreamy ‘Witness’, with its sweeping vistas, displays post-rock tendencies (or, more specifically, it echoes I Like Trains at their most melancholy).

There’s an overarching theatricality to the four tracks on offer here, and while they’re downtempo and downbeat, the aching beauty that lies in their shadowy depths is utterly compelling.

 

Last Harbour - Paler

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