a girl a bottle a boat
When Train founding member Jimmy Stafford left the band in 2016, he seemed to take the band’s roots-based rock with him; on the San Francisco-based band’s eighth studio album, a girl a bottle a boat, they replaced most of the delicate profundity of “Calling All Angels,” and “Drops of Jupiter” with poptastic anthems like “Drink It Up” that recall Chumbawamba’s shout-alongs more than they do Train’s psychic forebears Counting Crows, and “The News,” that makes you think of ‘90s boy bands NYNSC and Backstreet Boys at their very best. But this shouldn’t be a real surprise. For years frontman Pat Monahan insisted he wanted to move in a more commercial direction, and now it seems he has. While that’s not necessarily bad thing, it is a different aesthetic, making one recall what he told The Arizona Republic in 2015 after founding drummer Scott Underwood left the band: “Every time an original band member leaves, you wonder, ‘Would it have been better off if we had just broken up?’ You have to ask your fans ‘Would you rather that this was the Train you came to see this summer or would you rather that we all just disappeared?’” Apparently the singer chose the former, releasing an album that skitters from the doo-wop innocence of “Valentine” and the dance pop of “Lost and Found” to “Loverman,” a rather beat-happy duet with Rihanna songwriter Priscilla Renea. While a little juvenile, it’s the most honest track on the album which finds Monahan confessing: “Since I wandered off the grid. I’ve been trying to find my way back.” All we can say is welcome back.