He Who Saw The Deep

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7.00
I Like Trains seem to have dropped the lower case I's and a whole loads of other associations for their latest album He Who Saw The Deep. The record was fan funded via the innovative Pledge Music website and the band seem to have used this as a nudge to try something different. A conscious decision was made to move on from their well received debut Elegies to Lessons Learnt; out with the historical concepts, the reverb and in with contemporary lyrics and a wholly more accessible sound. Opener "When We Were Kings" starts off like a post-rock epic but cuts right to the chase and comes in at a slimline sub 5 minutes. It's a subtle start and sets you up for a record which is desolately commercial.  With "A Father's Son", vocalist David Martin's Yorkshire accent proves to be a perfect accompaniment to the dark melody, an asset which also keeps your attention on somewhat stark tracks like "Sirens". On "We Saw The Deep" strings and a gradually thickening sound build up to a slightly disappointing crescendo which might make you yearn for a good old extended outro, the bread winner of your average post-rock combo. Its on songs like this that you witness first hand just how this album is a deliberate change in direction, one where the band have perhaps resisted the urge to go all-out rock and crank up the noise. On "Progress Is A Snake" the melody is sparse and upbeat but the album really hits is peak with "Sea Of Regrets" and at 8 minutes in length you really get your money's worth. Here you get the build up and a pay-off that the Arcade Fire at their best would be proud of; clean guitar, slide, organ and strings do all the work on a slow but uplifting stylistic departure. Although the final three tracks on the album don't quite match this epic peak, a special mention should be given to penultimate track "A Divorce Before Marriage" which is equal parts atmospheric and anthemic, leaving only the brief and impressively bleak "Doves" to conclude a solid return to the scene. When the album's over you feel that its a triumph for the truly independent voice in an overcrowded market place of big budget "alternative" acts and if not for a few mildly forgettable tracks ("hope is not enough", "these feet of clay") the album might be regarded as one of the year's highlight.

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I Like Trains
ILR