Steel Train - Trampoline October 16th, 2007
So this album came out two months ago. Apologies. No seriously, I'm really sorry. What this and other reviews should tell you is that I pace myself in analyzing albums. Perhaps too much so. There's something so therapeutic about it, though. Waking up every morning, seeing a CD in your "To Review..." stack that has been there for much more than a month, popping it in, then telling yourself you'll get to reviewing it tomorrow. Oh Trampoline -- I will miss thee. Your simple cover that greeted me each time with memories of wasted hours at all those state fairs in and around October, attempting to impress some girl by making fun of carnies from afar and buying her lukewarm corn-dogs. Your rejuvenated peppiness (comparatively -- Twilight Tales...) that virtually transforms my room in to a suburban backyard someplace, where the first day of spring is being celebrated by cannonballs in a pool and burgers straight off the grill. Oh, cheese on mine please!
Trampoline really is a wonderfully lighthearted album. The opener, "I Feel Weird", demonstrates with utter jubilance that dainty-pop can work with a band that otherwise works in the classic-rock inspired realm. You can still hear remnants of their love affair with the oldies, though, like the guitar soloing in "Black Eye" and the majority of "Leave You Traveling". However, unlike Twilight Tales, the band's new direction is open to a wider audience. "Firecracker" and "A Magazine" are nearly guaranteed to be favorites, finding a fashionably late spot right in the middle of Trampoline -- a place where some albums seem to falter. Lyrically, I find, this release is easier to digest, especially by the younger crowd who felt left out completely by the previous album's country/folk strive-for-revival. "Together we can/Together we'll kill monsters in the rain/We are the same/What a mess you made". Jack Antonoff seems to be aiming for boyish-imagination or how such a mentality could be shattered in this batch of songs, to be honest. From a brief but distinctively naive look at a cross-dresser in "Dakota" to a sorrowful perspective of the city and coming home to an empty house in "Alone on the Sea".
It's an indie-pop album with bearable classic-rock leanings. It's not Twilight Tales by any means, however it is the same band that was venturous enough to try such a move as releasing a Grateful Dead-sounding debut on Drive-Thru Records of all places. Trampoline is just the safer, more fun offshoot. Had this come out in the summer, I could see it having made a bigger impact because everything about it screams blooming flowers and a sunny sun. Regardless, fire up the grill because I'd recommend nothing else to make things a little warmer than this album. Steel Train has been an unspoken favorite of mine since I first heard "Blown Away" back in '03. Long live misfits on the DTR roster! I'm looking at you too, RX.
love this album....favourite part is definitely at about the 2:50 mark of A Magazine when the music becomes sooo happy over top of the melancholy lyrics...which i guess is how a large part of this cd is.but nonetheless
I think the rating's for Creativity and Musicianship are incredibly unjust, but a good review.
Ratings don't really matter, it's the writing, and you did that well, although people not familliar with the band might not know exactly what they're getting here.
I mean, while it's a good album, it's not the most creative thing I've ever heard. There's countless bands that use a similar formula as Steel Train. I mean it's still a 6.75 which is above average and right below a 7. Keep in mind how close that is to 10. Musicianship, well 8.25 is damn good. I mean, we're not talking about a band like Dream Theater or something. You'll probably argue that it's not how good the instrumentation is, it's how their particular proficiency fits with the scope of the album. And I'd completely agree. But still tag it with an 8.25 with complete confidence.