Every once in a while a band comes along and you are convinced will be a one hit wonder and are surprised that they managed to get another hit. Train is one of those bands. Meet Virginia sounded it like one of those songs, a catchy folk rock hit at a time when soft rock was huge with quirky lyrics about a girl who wears high heels while exercising. Then a couple years later they broke any chance of them being relegated to one hit wonder status with the epic Drops of Jupiter that showed they were more than just the quirky lyrics band and could make a grand music statement and have been a permanent fixture on the adult contemporary charts ever since where they have alternated between the quirky of Meet Virginia and grandness of Drops of Jupiter.
They finally made it back on the pop charts with their last album with ukulele assisted Hey Soul Sister and look to continue that success with the first single off of their new album California 37. Drive By is a Hey Soul Sister clone if there ever was one and the band even break out the ukulele again for Sing Together. And Drive By is not the only blatant clone on the album because You Can Finally Meet My Mom sounds like the sequel Marry Me also from their last album (which is odd considering one would introduced their mom before asking their hand in marriage so maybe the song is actually meant to be a prequel). But You Can Finally Meet My Mom also and weird lyrics that go well beyond their typical quirky songs by ending the song with randomly name checking Steve Job and Whitney Houston (it is unclear if the song was written and recorded before both of their untimely demises or not, but still kind of creepy either way).
But lyrics on the album do not get weirder that when the album starts off with This’ll Be My Year where Pat Monahan delivers rapid fire about everything that has happened since 1985 in chronological order like a amendment to Billy Joel’s We Didn't Start the Fire (the newer song even includes the line “Russians leave Afghanistan” which I am going to go ahead and assuming is an allusion to Joel’s “Russians in Afghanistan” line from his song). Train does add a personal flavor to the historic moments but they could have done a better job picking events because I would not consider “Barcelona has the games” a very momentous occasion.
Like almost every other adult contemporary artist of the past decade, Train even goes country for a song on the album with the folksy Bruises, a duet with the severely underrated Ashley Monroe who is probably best known as one third of Pistol Annies. It is songs like this and When the Fog Rolls In where Monahan shows his vulnerability which makes me wish Train would tone down the silly lyrics, because their music is much better when they play it straight.
Song to Download - Bruises
California 37 gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.