iLiKETRAiNS - Progress Reform
Not many bands dress up as British Rail employees, play in front of backdrops depicting snow, chess and trains, and sing songs about arctic explorers. Not many have a DiSTiNCT WAY OF PRiNTiNG THE THiRD VOWEL. These honours are given solely to iLiKETRAiNS, who hail from Leeds and follow in a long line of eccentric, VERY British bands, who plot their own musical course.
The music on offer here is big, colossal at times, huge, wintry slab like chords. Their sound is beautiful and elegant, pouring out of their guitars in torrents, soaking you in melody. Opening track and current single Terra Nova is a fine example, a glorious piece of music, tender at first until exploding into wave upon wave of shredding guitar lines. It tells the epic story of Captain Scott's doomed 1912 Antarctic expedition, the lyrics quite heartbreaking, full of heroics as the doomed attempt fails.
No Military Parade follows this theme, and then into A Rook House of Bobby, their 2005 single. It is tells the tale of former chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, who, after becoming world champion in 1972, began to behave erratically. He joined an apocalyptic cult and had all his fillings removed due to fears that they could be used to influence his thinking. His wish was to live in a house "shaped like a rook" chess piece, and he now lives in virtual exile in Iceland. The song is sensational, an orchestra of grandeur, a tidal storm of guitar pounding as the story is set.
Citizen is also a fine song, which reminded me a lot of Ride's "Today Forever" EP, a monotonous swirl growing in power until its climax. The Accident is a more laid back, simple song, quiet and delicate, whereas Stainless Steel is a long, meandering song with a glorious ending.
With railways very much on the mind, the record closes with The Beeching Report, a protest song 42 years too late, sung from the point of view of aggrieved workers telling Dr Beeching their thoughts on his proposals to close smaller railway lines. It’s a passionate piece, sung from the heart, featuring at the end a choir imploring Beeching to reform his decision.
This is wonderful stuff, slightly baffling, always eccentric, but compelling and beautiful. The sound is early Ride mixed with Joy Division, dark and unsettling at times, but exciting, challenging music. I feel in love with this album and highly recommend you give it a try - it has a unique quality, full of layers, where every fresh listen brings a new experience.