Robyn Hitchcock
I Often Dream Of Trains


4.5
superb

Review

by robin EMERITUS
November 9th, 2008 | 15 replies | 6,430 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The cathedral of the mind.

There are only a few seconds of human sentimentality on I Often Dream of Trains; Hithcock’s smooth crooning Cause my heart/doesn’t break/anymore/cause my heart/ just couldn’t take/anymore on “I Used To Say I Love You” is this moment being so heart-warmingly open. Immediately, it self-destructs, Hitchcock snarls I used to say I love you/I said it as a threat in his recurring pervert voice, and kicks back into his sinister persona.

Indeed, Hitchcock isn’t the most comforting musical companion, but it makes him all the more fun: his folk singer-songwriter styling is something of a rare sight within its own confined area. Want emotion? Sure, just don’t expect the gentle spectrum of Bob Dylan, Conor Obest, et al. The range of feelings throughout I Often Dream of Trains is phenomenal, but only in the cruellest and coldest of fashions that still count as entertainment. “Sounds Great When Your Dead”, probably the album’s most well known number, alludes to Hitchcock as borderline psychotic while being provided with a contagious riff that forgives all. “The Bones In The Ground” is another morbid folk sing-along that barely needs an explanation but still beggars belief. Even straight from the albums first real song in “Sometimes I Wish I Was a Pretty Girl”, Hitchcock is strumming out the backdrop to his own creepiness.

The strumming is the only real continuous pattern to I Often Dream of Trains (aside from the whimsy vocal-driven bouts “Uncorrected Personality Traits” and “Furry Green Atom Bowl”), with every track backed by simply an acoustic guitar and the occasional piano chorus. Apart from this, Hithcock’s third release only teases itself with its minor theme of a blurry Britain. It’s there when Hitchcock strips away his sardonic humour and just murmurs out metaphors about the country he comes across as yearning. He riddles off geographical context and tempts a somewhat impersonal love of railways in “Trams of Old London”, and continues the mini-saga by spacing out the same idea in title track “I Often Dream of Trains” – I often dream of trains when I’m alone/they ride along the side of frozen lakes/and there in the buffet car I wait for eternity/or Basingstoke, or Reading a showcase of the lyrical bliss that typically encompasses Hitchcock’s work.

I Often Dream of Trains is often classified with a merry ‘folk pop’ tag, and yet this is at points so impossible to accept. The album is stripped down to its definite limits musically and melodically, and yet Robyn Hitchcock seems to poetically antagonise and rebut the listener's ease at any chance he gets. It doesn’t really matter though, because for all his repeated cries of Sometimes I wish I was a pretty girl/so I could look at myself in the shower you’ll feel all the more amused and sorry for his unravelling mind’s low hissing of Your mother is a journalist/your father is a creep. And yes, it’s weirder than assumed at a distance, but if Hitchcock can handle his problems, so can you.



Recent reviews by this author
Sharon Van Etten Are We ThereHis Hero Is Gone Fifteen Counts of Arson
Superchunk I Hate MusicThe Weakerthans Reconstruction Site
The Waterboys This Is the SeaOwen At Home With Owen
user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


rewrote this review because the album is better than i made out it to be.

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3742 Comments


i dunno if i can handle this cathedral

robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


mr wonder if you understood the way i felt about the stove

(but seriously this would appeal to you)

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3742 Comments


haha okay ill check it out

and im pretty sure its i used to wonder how you felt about the stoveThis Message Edited On 11.09.08

Bleak123
November 9th 2008


1902 Comments


This sounds cool, will probably check it out.

robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


josh, how would you know youve only listened to it NINE HUNDRED TIMES

robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


*impatient doublepost sorry*This Message Edited On 11.09.08

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3742 Comments


its never enough because i just have to put it out there,

marksellsuswallets
November 9th 2008


4848 Comments


:confused:

robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


yeah it's PROBABLY your favourite album, big statement joshuatree

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3742 Comments


im not one for big statements
i just finished downloading this btw is gonna be good i dunno!

marksellsuswallets
November 9th 2008


4848 Comments


i dun geddit...
Anywho I'll probably look into this...for some strange reason I've been quite the singer/songwriter mood as of late...

robin
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


4248 Comments


this is not as emotionally resonating as say, love tara, but it works.

jrowa001
November 10th 2008


8750 Comments


i should check this out

robin
Emeritus
November 10th 2008


4248 Comments


yes, definetely



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy