In these days of doom and gloom regarding the whole music industry, Leeds band I Like Trains (or iLiKETRAiNS as they used to present themselves) show a glimmer of hope for the fans of the physical music release, something you can get your hands on instead of the ephemeral/transient feelings of downloaded mp3s, legal or not.
The band had material for the new album at the start of 2010 but did not have a record deal, so decided to release it themselves on their own new label (ILR). An admirable stance, but one that requires substantial funds that the band did not have. So they turned to their record buying fans for help using the Pledge site (tinyurl.com/2b2yc5h) to raise funds by offering extra goodies to fans willing to part with cash, the more exclusive the item, the more the cost, from a signed CD of the new album to original water colour artwork for the Christmas Tree Ship EP. Pledges poured in and the new album was released this month.
There is a definite nautical theme to the whole album with lyrics such as “we rise, we fall, we pitch, we yaw, no sleep, no sleep, no sleep, repeat” on When We Were Kings and “the wind blows from the east, we’ll sail this ship into the setting sun” on Progress Is A Snake. You can almost imagine the pulsing drone at the end of Doves that closes the album as a foghorn warning of perilous rocks ahead!
Although they are no longer using historical stories and tableaus as the basis for their songs (a shame as I used to like trying (and usually failing) to decipher them), they still maintain the same post-rock dynamics; David Martin’s melancholic, sometimes breathy vocals washing over you like gentle waves, still provide a familiar strangely comforting feeling as the album begins that continues through the eleven tracks. The combination of his vocals and that lovely unmistakeable guitar sound on my personal favourite track on the album, These Feet Of Clay, still manages to send shivers up and down my spine, brrr, marvellous!
It also, ironically, sounds far better produced than previous album Elegies To Lessons Learnt which, although containing some very good tunes, always felt a bit messy and rushed to me.
So, to sum up, on first listen I was slightly non-plussed but after repeated listens it has really opened up, revealed itself and has really got under my skin. Although it will never reach the giddy heights of praise I laud upon early mini-LP Progress:Reform, it is certainly now second in my affections!