Album review: Train – A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat


Train have led an odd journey over their career in music. Storming out of the post-grunge scene of the late 90’s and hitting their stride, oddly enough, with a (usually) catchy pop-rock blend. But can ‘A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat’ keep up with the lofty highs of ‘Hey, Soul Sister’ and ‘Drops of Jupiter’?…

As we turned into the 21st century, Train were, for many, absolutely inescapable with tracks such as Calling All Angels and Drops of Jupiter dominating the charts and many people’s playlists. Although the San Francisco-based band was forged in the fire of alternative rock, they were tempered by their own blend of family-friendly pop rock with a more contemporary adult feel, this is shown from their fairly meteoric rise to fame in the early noughties where they went platinum with My Private Nation. Although they largely dropped off the radar until 2009 when Hey, Soul Sister stuck them back into the charts, the band seem to be back as strong as ever with this new release.

Before the first bar is even over in Drink Up, we are reminded immediately as to why Train were so present in the summer soundtracks of their glory days. A bright, shimmering telecaster guitar gives melody to a catchy bassline with hook-driven vocals. The family-friendly vibe that Train have exuded on many of their biggest tracks is so clear in this song with Drink Up relating to enjoying life and staying happy with friends with lyrics such as ‘take this moment, put it in a glass’ as opposed to getting drunk, if this track can ride the charts like its predecessors, I’m sure it will earn its place in many a summer playlist. Play That Song follows immediately and doesn’t let up with the feel-good factor of the previous song. It is immediately reminiscent of Hey, Soul Sister; which is no bad thing considering the former’s success. A simplistic beat leads tuneful and understated brass as a comfortable undertone to Pat Monahan’s soulful voice and vocal range.

A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat

A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat is Train’s tenth studio album

Although the album leads well with its opening duo of songs, it also has its fair share of weak moments. The first two songs are followed by The News and also Lottery. A track which stops the momentum of the first two lively, energetic songs dead in their tracks, thanks to halting vocals and a confused instrumental set lunging from acoustic to club-beat in mere moments.

There are also excellent displays of a variety of styles and emotions as well as the simple, happy-go-lucky style the band seem most famed for. The final songs on the album; Lost and Found and You’d Better Believe come as real surprises, considering the light-hearted feel of most of the tracks. Lost and Found is undeniably catchy with a brass-led, hip-hop beat with emotive and positive lyrics containing references to (we assume) Monahan’s father. The following, and final, track You’d Better Believe is equally emotional but is far more melancholy in it’s restrained, piano-heavy tone despite the band’s unerringly positive message.

Overall, the album is well-polished, as expected after over two decades and a few different line-ups for the band, the production is clean, though on a couple of tracks, overdone with vocals and guitar come across overwhelmed by effects. If anything is certain though, the band is sure to have cemented themselves as stalwarts of the pop-rock scene and if they continue as they are, will be gracing upbeat playlists for a long time to come. To get your toes tapping to this catchy album, why not come for a demo so we can help you choose the best system to hear it on.






Author: Steve, Southgate store