Tigers on Trains
Antarctica In Color


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
October 1st, 2014 | 105 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just another day at the office for the best indie-folk band around.

If you’re a folk enthusiast who still hasn’t listened to Tigers on Trains, you’re just cruelly depriving yourself. One could easily argue that Grandfather and Foundry have elevated them amongst the genre’s elite, and anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing those albums probably only needs a review of Antarctica In Color as a reminder to go purchase it. Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs are naturally gifted indie-folk musicians, and once you’ve heard one of their works, there’s very little convincing that’s necessary to keep them on your radar. In pairing stunning vocal harmonies with poetically existential lyrics, they’ve created possibly the definitive indie-folk experience over the course of their eight year existence. Antarctica In Color is the band’s third studio album in an already revered discography and, quite impressively, it manages to expand their sound even more.

If Grandfather was a timeless classic and Foundry proved that it wasn’t a fluke, then Antarctica In Color is the album that experiments with the proven approach. While Tigers on Trains remain loyal to their unique brand of Paul Simon folk meets Jesse Lacey alt-rock, there’s definitely a more fully-realized and confident approach here. Whereas their first two records remained firmly planted in complex acoustic picking and soaring vocal harmonies, Antarctica In Color lives up to its name by adding new splashes of creativity to a once plain white canvas. It’s actually not apparent until about thirty seconds into ‘Attention!’, but when that track comes to life in a frenzy of fast-paced drumming and wailing electric guitars, the evolution that has slowly been occurring right under our noses suddenly becomes abundantly clear. There’s something tremendously satisfying about the way that it brings together all of Tigers on Trains’ best aspects and presents them in a totally new light – in a sense, making it a microcosm of the album as a whole. Tigers on Trains have filled Antarctica In Color to the brim with energy – something that wasn’t necessarily a strong suit on past endeavors – without sacrificing very many of the traits that have gotten them to this point. It’s clear that this is a band continuing to grow within itself, and they show no indications of weakening their foundation in the process.

Their expansion isn’t limited to more energetic percussion and guitars, however. ‘Plumes’ shows that even a band like Tigers on Trains isn’t immune to the intrigue of electronic dabbling, employing a subtle backbeat that lends the album a much needed dose of ambiance. Moderation is key here – Maggio and Van Deurs know exactly where to draw the line, and they only experiment in ways that work for their sound. This strength presents itself once again on the cheerful ‘Staircase’, a mid-tempo track that bounces atop uplifting strings and keyboards. Once again it’s nothing groundbreaking, just Tigers on Trains slowly introducing new elements to their sound while remaining true to their roots. One of Antarctica In Color’s greatest strengths is this sense calculated risk – minor progressions that occur throughout the experience and make it their most interesting record to date.

One modification that might be viewed by longtime fans as a misstep is the seemingly reduced vocal role of Christian Van Deurs. On Grandfather and Foundry, so much of the atmosphere was made up of the beautiful harmonizing between Maggio and Van Deurs. Here, it seems he has taken a backseat to Maggio which, with all due respect to him as a top-notch vocalist, directly affects the heights to which the choruses can ascend to. In turn, Antarctica In Color doesn’t have the hooks that Grandfather proudly put on display routinely. The album proves to be memorable in plenty of other ways, but those who are looking for something as catchy as ‘Muhammad’ won’t find it here.

If there’s one thing that certainly hasn’t changed, it is the quality of Mason Maggio’s songwriting and lyricism. Fans of Grandfather will find plenty to like here, as Antarctica In Color is ripe with metaphors, literary references, religious philosophizing, and insights about relationships. Even though these topics have been covered time and time again by a wide range of artists, it’s almost as if Maggio makes it his personal mission to obliterate the presence of clichés. Take ‘Kicked Out Of The Chain Gang’ for instance, in which he laments, “forty days of fasting couldn’t save my soul” and “I got kicked out of the parish for swearing at God.” In the bluesy folk closer, ‘Volunteer’, he expresses abandonment and heartbreak in a whole new light: “It’s a shame I showed myself…but you only showed yourself out / Eventually doesn’t mean much, but mine is surrounded by your love...so if you grow towards someone else well that would eventually break my heart.” It would be easy to gush on for pages about the quality of the lyrics on Antarctica In Color, but honestly it’s something better heard than read.

Tigers on Trains’ career thus far has been an exhibition of incredible talent and consistent execution. As relatively unknown as they remain, Maggio and Van Deurs continue to put out one top-notch album after another – a trend that isn’t likely to conclude any time soon. Antarctica In Color tips its hand towards more of a folk-rock approach in the future, which is an exciting prospect when you consider that their alter-ego, The Republic of Wolves, has also been very successful in its own right. No matter what direction they decide to follow, though, it’s a safe bet that they will pour their heart and soul into it – just as they do everything. When musicians this talented care this much about their work, good things tend to happen. That’s why it’s no surprise that Tigers on Trains’ whole discography – Antarctica In Color included – is so damn incredible.



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user ratings (86)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Feather
October 1st 2014


5538 Comments


Great review, I can't wait to listen to this. Grandfather was awesome, tbh I havnt heard foundry yet... I used mostly spotify and its not on there for some reason.

JS19
October 1st 2014


7419 Comments


I can't wait to have the money for this

Tyrael
October 1st 2014


21113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ilu Sowing!

dimsim3478
October 1st 2014


8511 Comments


I can't wait to have the money for this [2]

Digging: Have a Nice Day! - DYSTOPIA ROMANCE 4.0

loudasallgetout
October 1st 2014


17 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

After 6 or 7 listens I have to say I'm really disappointed in this. The mix of Mason AND Christian, to me, is what makes Tigers on Trains Tigers on Trains. This just feels like an acoustic Republic of Wolves album or something. It's a really good album in the respect. Just not at all what I was hoping for.

CrisStyles
October 1st 2014


775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is very good, and I like some of the changes in their sound but I'm really disappointed in how Van Deurs' role has been reduced on here. I loved Grandfather and Foundry for their harmonies and the majority of the time it sounds like they're nonexistent on this album.

YourDarkAffected
October 1st 2014


1850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Indeed, I'm digging this a lot.

wacknizzle
October 1st 2014


14526 Comments


Where the fuck can I hear this!?

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 1st 2014


32859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

This just feels like an acoustic Republic of Wolves album or something.




The Republic of Wolves would never go in this folksy/poppy of a direction, but I know what you mean. Van Deurs' reduced role is probably my only complaint with this album, along with the absence of a song as epic as 'A Year in the Garden Shed' or 'Mont Ventoux.' Overall though, it's hard to be disappointed in an album that tried a lot of new things and succeeds in practically every way. I'd put this right on par with Foundry, but nothing touches Grandfather still.

Digging: Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

fallenbird
October 1st 2014


4492 Comments


Can't wait to listen to this, where can I stream it?

redrig
October 1st 2014


137 Comments


you can stream it on their bandcamp page http://tigersontrains.bandcamp.com/

redrig
October 1st 2014


137 Comments


you can stream it on their bandcamp page http://tigersontrains.bandcamp.com/

Skoop
October 1st 2014


2149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I miss the dual vocals

ExplosiveOranges
October 1st 2014


4408 Comments


"If you’re a folk enthusiast who still hasn’t listened to Tigers on Trains, you’re just cruelly depriving yourself."

Sold. Great writeup, Sowing.

Aids
October 2nd 2014


24460 Comments


it's 2009 again

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 2nd 2014


32859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Sweet, these guys seemed to like the review also. They posted it to their Facebook account.

Deathconscious
October 2nd 2014


23267 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

im getting this right now, cant wait to hear it.

omnipanzer
October 2nd 2014


21825 Comments


Bitched about how bad these guys were live at a concert once. Then I was introduced to the lead singers mother sitting right behind me... oops.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 2nd 2014


32859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

What was wrong with their live performance?

omnipanzer
October 2nd 2014


21825 Comments


It was right after Grandfather had come out and they were opening for Ben Folds. A Ben Folds show is generally upbeat, engaging and probably a little too insidery. I just found them to be really boring and wanted to get on with the show. I'm sure they are better now.



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