Sunday, 7 October 2007

Album review – iLiKETRAiNS – ‘Elegies To Lessons Learnt’

iLiKETRAiNS are what would happen if Alan Bennett’s History Boys put on a show to save the old clubhouse. Musically, they’re not exactly revisionists: Hope Of The States, delivered the same mix of formal attire, Morricone-bombast, and Radiohead’s sorrowful politics, but with a British wit and lightness of touch that pitched them as distant, moody cousins of the Libertines. Perhaps iLiKETRAiNS have learnt lessons from HotS’ miserable fate: their baritone vocals bracket them with more successful Joy Division interpreters like Interpol or Editors, and they achieve greater gravitas than either by rooting their cryptic set-pieces in dark and tragic historic events.

Occasionally the claims of history fail to excuse grating lyrics or leaden pronouncements. Their debut EP, ‘Progress / Reform’ felt more engaged, and showed more dramatic flair and musical panache. A lack of variation puts this album in a lower league than HotS’ impressive debut The Lost Riots. But in the long term, iLiKETRAiNS' commitment to sparking listeners' curiosity and sending the kids to the library, or onto wikipedia, redolent of the early Manics, may mean they can overcome the law of diminishing returns that blighted their peers. After all, there’s a lot of history out there. (B)

iLiKETRAiNS - 'Spencer Perceval'

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