Along with Forward Russia and This Et Al, I LIKE TRAINS helped to form an exciting independent Leeds music scene. All of them loosely fitted underneath the experimental/post-rock umbrella but I LIKE TRAINS stood out because of their fascination with history rather than the future. As the only one of those three acts to be still active, I LIKE TRAINS re-emerged last year with ‘He Who Saw The Deep’; signalling an ambitious move in to a nautically-themed concept album.
The record begins in a familiar crash of post-rock guitars but in truth this is not a melodramatic record. Instead what follows is a brilliant set of controlled emotion. If guitars rage – as they do on ‘He Saw The Deep’ – then it’s for a good purpose and frontman David Martin is always on hand to offer a calming presence in stormy waters.
‘Progress Is A Snake’ is one of the few songs which reverts to bombastic tendencies but the military percussion and air of doom ensures the voyage is uninterrupted. ‘Sea Of Regrets’ also has plenty of storm and bluster in its attempts to emulate Sigur Ros. Yet these are forgiveable sins considering the last three songs are so glacial and elegant.
The tone throughout is one of regret; as if all band members are aware that their ship is doomed to destruction but they proudly sail on undeterred. ‘These Feet Of Clay’ and ‘Sirens’ cast a deep, chilling shadow but the melancholic melodies rank amongst the band’s best.
For those who disapprove of British Sea Power’s ever more anthemic music, I LIKE TRAINS provide the thinking man’s alternative to atmospheric, oceanic rock. As well as being a masterpiece in subtlety, ‘He Who Saw The Deep’ maintains a thematic coherence and atmosphere from first track to last.
British Sea Power, Echo And The Bunnymen, Sigur Ros