They burst off the blocks exactly ten years ago with their instant classic debut smash “Meet Virginia,” and followed that up a pair of years later with an unforgettable, monumentally magnificent — and, natch, Grammy-sweeping — tune called “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” (which you shan’t be stunned to find sitting front and center when the Buzz makes its picks for the best songs of the decade next month).  As the aughts progressed, they seemed to get mired in a mysterious malaise — if you made it all the way through their dopey, depressed 2006 effort For Me, It’s You with your sanity fully intact, you’re absolutely to be commended — but it pleases me no end to announce that my current favorite band Train is back in bidness with an exhilarating, gloriously gratifying new record, the brand new Save Me, San Francisco.

The album — their fifth studio release — kicks off in raucous, rowdy style with its terrific title track, a pulse-pounding love letter to the City by the Bay (the band’s beloved hometown) and a blistering opening salvo that finds Train’s fearless, peerless leader Pat Monahan, lyrically and vocally, continuing on the hot roll he began two years ago with his spectacular solo disc Last of Seven.  From there, Save Me spins off in a number of wild (and, on balance, wildly satisfying) directions which find the band collaborating with the hitmaker of the moment — the amazing Ryan Tedder — on the powerful “This Ain’t Goodbye”; apparently co-opting Cher’s infamous vocoder (on the bizarre but strangely soothing “Breakfast in Bed”); name-checking those ’80s relics Mr. Mister on the record’s it-grows-on-ya lead single “Hey, Soul Sister” (what, Pat, you couldn’t anything that rhymed with ‘Til Tuesday?); and indulging in several giant helpings of their trademarked soaring power pop (do not fail to check out “Parachute,” far and away this record’s MVP).  That’s not to say there aren’t a couple of clunkers among Save Me‘s eleven tracks (trust me, the less said about “I Got You” — a weird musical melange which steals a number of verses and riffs from The Doobie Brothers’ rock radio classic “Black Water” — the better), but I guarantee you:  if you’ve ever silently and painfully yearned for someone from afar, I swear to God you can feel the earnest burn inherent in Monahan’s wearied voice all the way down to your toenails as you listen to him on the album’s heartbreaking closer, “Marry Me.”  It is a pitch-perfect way to wrap up a beautifully rendered return to form for one of the best bands on today’s beat.

Comments are closed.