13 June 2012
listen: the shallows
Andrew Reinholds reviews the musically progressive I Like Trains latest album.
I Like Train’s 2010 release ‘He Who Saw the Deep’ was a gloriously graphic depiction of the end of times, as the world slips into a watery grave. It also quickly became one of my favourite records that I found myself returning to again and again.
So it seemed only natural that for their next release ‘The Shallows’, I Like Trains has turned to the Nicholas Carr’s Pulitzer Prize nominated book of the same name. Carr’s non-fiction book is a treatise on the effect the internet is having on our brains and as a result our (in)ability to process difficult and complex ideas.
As bleak and uninspiring as it sounds, the move from an environmental disaster of epic proportions to one driven by man-made technology has resulted in another challenging concept album that alternates thrillingly between the brooding melancholy of lyricist David Martin and the chilling atmosphere of the music that spirals each of the nine tracks to their epic climaxes.
Look no further than ‘Mnemosyne’ the bass driven single that references the Greek goddess of memory or the huge looping electronic riff that propels ‘Beacons’. Producer Richard Formby (who most recently collaborated with Wild Beasts on their excellent ‘Smother’ album) has rather appropriately stripped all human feeling and emotion from the music which contrasts superbly with Martin’s rich baritone narrative of mankind slowly being overwhelmed by the relentless march of the machines.
It is appropriately cerebral stuff, but at the same time dramatic enough to be absolutely mesmerising. At just nine songs, it’s their shortest album yet – given the album’s theme, the irony shouldn’t be lost on us.
Beautiful and delicate – the apocalypse has never sounded better.