History Lessons With A Tender Touch
It can be a little off putting when a cd arrives on your desk with a booklet of essays to accompany each track, its like being back at school and having to actually work. Coupled with this is the fact that every song on iLiKETRAiNS debut album contains a lesson from history – a kind of two for the price of one offering that aims to instil some knowledge into the music fan one way or the other. Now some may say this is inventive, a sure way to make sure kids at least learn something worthwhile whilst others will smirk and moan about the sheer pretentiousness of the band but come on, can you really say that about a bunch of lads from Leeds who even on occasion dress as train conductors? Sure, they may have you stumped at first with their reverential and solemn take on music but even amongst their dark and sombre history lessons there's a glimmer of fun twinkling for all to see and what's more you can't deny that they are original to the very core.
Composed on a fairly rigid framework, Elegies To Lessons Learnt tends to take the stance that a song will start subtly, build to a frenzy of feedback and guitars that transports you back in time before gently returning the listener to the future once more all within a time frame negotiated by the delicious croon of the simply named lead singer, Dave. For other bands this would seem like an easy cope out, a pattern that would soon become monotonous and tiring but iLiKETRAiNS wrap so much up in this framework, have so many varying musical concoctions occurring and release lyrics draped in lush historical fact and passion that every single track stands out starkly as new and original from the last. You know there's a post-rock pattern forming but you simply don't care and whilst they make lack the frenetic energy of their peers even this is something to make you fall in love with the band even more. Dealing with a village in the North East who cut themselves off entirely in the 1600's to prevent further spread of the bubonic plague, opening track 'We All Fall Down' moves at a snails pace, ambling along as it tells of the villagers plight with extra darkness and unhappiness ebbing from each line and whilst its placid pace runs of the risk of grating, somehow iLiKETRAiNS gets away with it, allowing the music to wash over you and the lyrics to sing in beautifully. Things do pick up slightly with 'Death Of An Idealist' as a bombastic herald introduces the song suggesting a grandeur and majestic quality that flows through Dave's grave hued voice as he croons woefully adding an authoritative air to the track that's slightly unnerving but entirely commanding. 'We Go Hunting' continues this theme of a quicker beat as guitars and drums create an haunting atmosphere, topped once more by chilling vocals as the tales of the Salem witch trials unfolds in all their sinister and dark glory.
By the time you reach 'Spencer Perceval', the only assassination of an British Prime minister iLiKETRAiNS have provided of a history lesson then most schools manage in a lifetime and while they may not deal with any pleasant subjects, there's a real sense that the Leeds' band are capturing the real essence of human nature. Not concerned with major events, iLiKETRAiNS tell the story of those who may have been overlooked and do so with tenderness that radiates from each line of each song. As far as debut albums go Elegies Of Lessons Learnt is perhaps as ambitious as they come, brandishing subjects that are as daunting as the weighty book of essay's that accompany the album but for those not scared of a challenge the rewards are plenty. A history lesson with a tenderness to match it ostentatiously majestic nature