The Train Wreck Is Behind You

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If Nothing Stops Moving was a rousing catharsis, The Train Wreck Is Behind You is compellingly self-assured. If the former was a reinvigoration, its melodic ebullience belying songs that were still tender and cynically cautious at their cores, the latter is entirely vibrant, a seamless and sonorous achievement that picks up on the scarred sensitivity of the first album in its initial stages before superseding that frangibility with a fresh sense of vigor and possibility. In the album's opening moments, Steve Tagliere and Seth Rothschild revisit some of the somber apprehension and insecurity expressed throughout the debut, particularly on a lyrical level. The sequence opens with the dismissive "Who Cares," and a considerable twinge of uncertainty suffuses "Where Do I Stand?" and "King Sized Doubt." This is not to imply, of course, that those songs are any less delectable in their varying degrees of melancholy, and even from the start there is a tangible gathering of emotional steam; but by the time The Train Wreck Is Behind You hits its midpoint, the precarious emotional content, for the most part, is full behind Gingersol. What remains is incisive and potent, both in terms of its melodic content and its impact. Gone are the ragged edges that made similarities to powerful, like-minded bands like the Replacements and Crazy Horse so easy and apt. There is nothing messy or disheveled about The Train Wreck Is Behind You, least of all on a musical level. Gingersol still shows the capacity to generate reams of instrumental force (the gritty "Amnesia," for instance), but the band even more successfully consummates their reserves of ardor with a more refined and detailed production, so fine that it provides an added layer of beauty to already expert songs. The banjo that injects a degree of longing into the winsomeness of "Face up Again," holding it in equilibrium; the vibes during the chorus of "Over the Handle Bars" that mirror the sweetly nostalgic title while a harmonium and trumpet carry the more weathered weight of the transitions -- these are the sort of careful sonic touches that build little niches and nests into the songs and give them depth of feeling, a vividly transformative effect. With The Train Wreck Is Behind You, Tagliere and Rothschild skipped the transitional stage and vaulted straight into the deep end of their mature artistry.

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