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Review: Train lays new tracks on ‘California 37’

With summer well on its way, Train has created an ultimate California-style summer soundtrack to bring along on all upcoming road trips.

In Train’s sixth studio album, “California 37,” the trio toys with a new mix of sounds, yet it doesn’t stray far from the commercial pop-rock formula.

The opening track, “This’ll Be My Year,” a backtrack through pop culture moments from 1985-2012, is a slow, vapid start to the album and a disappointing complement of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” Along with the song’s array of cultural benchmarks come gimmicky one-liners such as “I stopped believing, although Journey told me ‘Don’t.'”

The lead single, “Drive By,” is surprisingly one of my least favorites of the album. It sounds extremely commercial and comes across as something I would expect to hear from boy bands such as Big Time Rush or One Direction. However, the single is unquestionably upbeat and catchy, as are most top-40 hits.

As successful as these cheerful anthems are, I can’t help but wonder if it is true Train-like formula.

It’s when the band strays from the typical pop sound, bravely manipulating its songs to head in a completely different musical direction, that you hear the band’s true strength.

The peak of the album comes when listening to “50 Ways to Say Goodbye,” which consists of a Spanish-influenced mariachi sound, another catchy tune and one of the select few of the album I actually enjoyed listening to.

The acoustic-driven song, “Feels Good at First,” has a gentler vibe than the majority of the songs, and is another highlight of the album. It’s during songs such as this one that lead vocalist Pat Monahan can show off his talent.

While “California 37” is undeniably catchy, its teenage-focused tracks are no “Drops Of Jupiter” or “Meet Virginia.”

Grade: B-


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