KOMPROMAT – I Like Trains (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I Like Trains feel like something that we lost along the musical way. They also feel like something that is more necessary today than at almost any time in recent history. Some of the most interesting musical movements, hip-hop, punk, even rock and roll itself, grew out of disenfranchisement and boredom and such genres embraced the idea of questioning those in power, of talking about the cracks in society, as they say it, of using their platform as a soapbox to communicate with like-minded people. As the dark clouds gather, politics becomes a play-thing for the rich and powerful, and societal divisions grow, the amount of music being made which puts such concerns under the microscope seems to be largely noticeable bu its absence. So thank the gods of music for I Like Trains.

Previous singles, A Steady Hand and The Truth, acted as a handy taster for this album to come but having all these songs in one place, to be able to wander its sonics and sentiments as one full body of work is fantastic. Like all bands worth their salt, I Like Trains sound has evolved, expanded and explored over the years and the one that they present us on KOMPROMAT is very much based around a motornik drive and a post-punk vibe, dark and hypnotic, lyrically smart and musically direct.

As the title of the album suggests, the core themes are those surrounding information and propaganda as wielded by the powers-that-be through media platforms, social and otherwise, and how that affects and drives and dictates public opinion. The Truth is the most direct version of this, a manifesto of what truth may or may not mean put to a hypnotic beat and an ever rising dynamic and at the other extreme are songs such as New Geography, an indie-infused musing built of shimmering and chiming swathes of interlocking sound.

Between this you have gorgeously dark and powerful missives like Dig In, the slightly off-kilter and hazy sonic projections of PRISM ending up in the strange, chanson meets dream-pop meets art-punk conjurations of Eyes To The Left.

KOMPROMAT is proof that you can make great music and have something relevant and important to say simultaneously, or at least have provoking questions to ask and poignant rhetoric to project to the masses. It begs the question as to why artists settle for writing the same old love songs, the same old self-aggrandising statements, undertake the same old irrelevant sonic journeys, circle in the same old creative holding patterns. Having attained a following as a band provides the perfect platform from which to be heard. It might not be cool in some circles but having something to say is important. Music might not change the world but it might just change opinion…and that in itself is quite a powerful thing to be able to do.

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