I know very little about the mainstream rock music of the aughts. For the first four years, I was sequestered in rural Quebec, with very little exposure to radio and access to music video channels only sporadically (and English-language for only one year). After returning to the world for two years, I then spent the rest of the decade in Hamilton without cable and without internet. So, if something was a hit in the aughts, and especially if it was a “rock radio hit” – as opposed to a pop hit that might get more airplay in, say, dentist’s offices – I was likely unaware of. To the extent I know Train, I know them from very rare and random exposure to their songs. (I now know these songs I’ve heard from this album are their songs. I honestly didn’t know that before.) And I guess I must have seen the videos for these hits in the two years I was back in the world during the aughts.
So, I guess Train is the inevitable sound we should have expected once “alternative rock” died out. They are about as generic-sounding a rock band as I can imagine. On this album, they run through the various iterations of most of the most common classic rock styles but with the production quality you would expect from an album made at the turn of the millennium. I have no idea what kids would buy an album like this and I suspect their sales had a lot to do with anyone old enough to have faint memories of classic rock (or those raised on those memories) but who didn’t have strong opinions about classic rock. (I mean, like would actually classic rock fans seek out something this benign? It’s unlikely.)
This album did as well as it did because the hits are catchy and everything is extremely well produced (in sound-quality sense). I don’t know what their earlier music sounds like but this seems crafted exactly to target the “rock” side of the adult contemporary market – catchy melodies in clothes that vaguely recall rock’s golden age, with none of that off-putting punk influence that made alternative sound so grating.
It feels like a product to me. And that’s likely very unfair to the people who made it who, presumably, genuinely like making music that sounds like this. But I can’t imagine ever wanting to listen to it again.
5/10 because it’s well made and I do sincerely believe the people making it believe in it.