Train - Drops of Jupiter

Train
Drops of Jupiter

(Aware/Columbia/Sony)

First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2001, Volume 8, #7

Written by John Metzger

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The more successful a group's debut, the harder the follow-up is to create. Consequently, sophomore efforts often prove to be a critical junction for bands. Some sink like a stone into the bottomless abyss of the record store discount bin. Others tread water for awhile before finding a new burst of creativity. Only a few come through completely unscathed and intact.

While it is too early to tell into which category Train will eventually fall, it currently appears as if it might slide into the middle ground. The band's latest release Drops of Jupiter is certainly a respectable effort, but it hardly lives up to the its full potential, particularly after the initial trio of songs. Sure, Train continues its chameleon-like ways transforming itself into The Beatles for the psychedelic pop of Something More and augmenting the majestic title track with a string section straight from an Elton John recording. Although many of the selections wander through some wide-ranging territories, however, in the end they also sound as if they've been watered down significantly. As a result, they unfortunately come across as rather generic in nature. In other words, they lack personality and passion, and they just as easily could be delivered by any of the other late '90s mainstream rock acts performing today.

But this is Train, a group that more than proved its talent on its stirring self-titled debut, and one has to wonder just what is going on. As it turns out, it's not really that the songs on Drops of Jupiter are the problem. It's the arrangements that fail to fully ignite them. In fact, it's only upon closer, more diligent inspection that one finally does discover the group in all its glory buried deep inside, screaming to get out. I Wish I Would flirts with a gentler, roots-oriented angle as harmonica and mandolin struggle to be heard. Respect contains moments that threaten to break free to traverse territory covered by the E Street Band. Let It Roll wouldn't sound all that out of place on an early album by The Jayhawks. And Whipping Boy manages to roll from The Beatles into a molten-lava fusion of Blind Melon and Neil Young.

In other words, it ought to be quite interesting to see how the band mutates these songs in concert, thereby breathing some of the lifeforce back into them. After all, they've got plenty of potential. It's just that on Drops of Jupiter, most of them are not well executed. So, as Train perches on a precarious ledge, we can only hope for the best. After all, sometimes the recovery from a mediocre sophomore effort can be a joy to behold, making it all worthwhile. starstar

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44th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Rock Song
Drops of Jupiter

44th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
Drops of Jupiter

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Drops of Jupiter is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright 2001 The Music Box