the Buzz for May 17th, 2012


Train — “You Can Finally Meet My Mom” (from California 37) — You Can Finally Meet My Mom - California 37

Clearly emboldened by the unstoppable success of their dippy, dopey smash “Hey, Soul Sister” (which shamelessly name-checked Mr. Mister and Madonna — and cribbed a key lyric from INXS — on its way to becoming one of the best-selling digital singles in pop music history), my eternal faves Train have amped the pop culture references up to twelve-and-a-half on California 37, their just-released fifth album, which kicks off with the Proper-Noun-heavy, you-were-there-and-so-were-we history lesson “This’ll Be My Year” — think of it as “We Didn’t Start the Fire 2.0” — and only grows more ridiculous from there. (Kid you not: “Year’s” chorus actually includes the phrase “I stopped believin’ / although Journey told me, ‘Don’t’ / before I call it a day….”) Luckily for us die-hard fans, this band hasn’t completely forgotten the fact that its lead singer Pat Monahan’s sinewy, slyly acrobatic voice has always been its golden ticket to ride, and indeed, said voice singlehandedly rescues more than a couple of this record’s flights of fancy from outright doom, including this one, essentially a laundry list — set to glorious music, natch — of folks, from Buddha to Jimi Hendrix to Whitney Houston to “the dude who played the sheriff in Blazing Saddles (!),” whom Pat is not gonna introduce his true love to once they both make it inside the pearly gates. (I swear to Jesus I’m not making this up!) Monahan’s achingly earnest vocal performance swoops in to save the day here, and I still can’t decide whether this is the most irritating slice of melodic claptrap, or the sweetest love song I’ve ever heard. (As a man who met his own true love three weeks to the day after my father passed away, I can absolutely get with the sentiment that drives this magnificent mess, because I think I’d give anything if A and my Dad could have spent some time together. Dad was a rabid Republican and a staunch redneck — which is to say, A’s diametric opposite in pretty much every way — but I think he would have gotten a big kick out of the crazy fool I happily call my life partner once he could have gotten to know him, and I hope against hope that one day, someway, the two men I have loved most in this life will be able to put their heads together and finally compare notes on the view from their own respective corners of the world.)