The Leaving Trains


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With a new lineup anchored by the band's sole returning member, singer/guitarist Falling James, the Trains begin to solidify around the atavistic paeans to dissipation and alienation that quickly are becoming James' stock-in-trade. The roaring guitars still rumble, but many of the last album's softer moments are lost in a preference for unfettered adrenaline. As with most rock surveys of dissolution, there's another junkie song, itself a bit of an homage to the Velvets ("What Cissy Said"), and it's one of the better songs on the album, but James' clipped writing style and short songs lead to a number of throwaways, short-circuiting the finer moments. Guitarist Sam Merrick (later of the Nymphs) writes a couple good songs, one about touring the South ("27 Days") and one of punk's great love songs, "Walking With You," in which he sings, "I'm so damn tired, I'm sick of being burned/You can deal with love if that's your idea of fun/Me, I think I'll stick with alcohol and guns." Within the crunchy, bouncing punk-pop approach, James' increasingly unironic expressions of frustration begin to tread the line between whining ("Disasters") and poignancy. The album reaches its nadir with the plodding album-closing dirge "What the President Meant to Say." Still, there's a terrific cover of Iggy Pop's "Horse Song," and lucid moments like "Temporal Slut" and "So Fucked Up," with its suggestion, "Seems like a cruel joke to play on a kid/To bring 'em into a world that looks like this," redeem the lesser ones.

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