Since 1994, Train has run the gamut of pop music. Starting with a rustic pop sound with their self-titled debut, and moving to the more acoustic-folk Drops of Jupiter and the incredibly polished My Private Nation, For Me, It’s You, and Save Me, San Francisco, Train has perused almost every corner of radio-friendly pop. So, when I received their latest album California 37, I wasn’t expecting much more than the glossy pop that they have been hovering around for the last three albums. While they stay in that vein, somehow they sound like they’ve grown.
Right from the opening seconds of “This’ll Be My Year,” (their best opening track yet) the band sounds much more focused and confident than it ever has. While lead singer Pat Monahan still tries to cram as many pop culture references as he can into one track (23 by my count on this track alone), they seem perfectly placed and necessary.
“We Were Made for This” is almost the perfect pop song. You can almost hear Monahan smile while slowly building to the bridge and Jimmy Stafford’s killer guitar solo.
The title track adds some funk to an already solid album and Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe lends a country twang to “Bruises.”
Train’s last three albums, while all solid, have had tracks that are easily skipped. This is the first album since Drops of Jupiter where from top to bottom, every song is great. Their confidence is prominent throughout the album and, combined with immaculate production by Butch Walker and Espionage, makes California 37 one of their best.