Tigers on Trains
Foundry


5.0
classic

Review

by YoYoMancuso USER (50 Reviews)
December 1st, 2020 | 41 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "There is no leaf, no patch of grass, but that which is withering fast".

Tigers on Trains exist within the liminal space between myth and reality. Their soft, infectious acoustic melodies and dreamlike vocal harmonies are intimate and modern, while their lyrics and narrative storytelling recall blurry memories of a universally shared past, archetypes that resonate for reasons unknown. This heavenly blend of musical ideas was first realized on their 2009 debut Grandfather, a renowned release in indie folk circles for its warmth, wordplay, and sonic beauty. More overlooked is their brilliant follow-up, 2012’s Foundry, which can be seen as both an extension and an improvement of their sound when examined thoroughly. Throughout the 12-track journey of the record, Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs repeatedly combine their ornate musical arrangements with deft and dreamlike lyricism to create a spellbinding album that reveals more and more of its understated genius with each subsequent listen.

The development of Tigers on Trains’ instrumental sound is displayed immediately from the opening seconds of introductory track “In The Atlas Cedars”, as the listener is greeted with shimmering electric guitars and lead lines. Grandfather’s bare-bones arrangement style was characterized by the occasional splash of melodic embellishment (the marvelous acoustic guitar solo on “Sea Weed”, as well as the harmonized picking intro of “Ship Shape”) while almost always staying firmly grounded in acoustic territory. Foundry’s introduction of electric instrumentation as a permanent fixture of Tigers on Trains’ sound is revelatory, primarily because of its function in creating an enveloping atmosphere that elevates the album from by-the-numbers indie folk to an absolutely compelling listening experience. The way these new sounds mesh with the band’s signature acoustic simplicity allows for the instrumentation to aid the storytelling in a new and refreshing way. Grandfather featured sudden and impactful shifts in dynamics, such as the acclaimed ending of album closer “A Year in the Garden Shed”, that relied upon explosions of volume from both the vocalists and the guitars. Foundry has plenty of these powerful moments, namely on the front half of the album, as well as in back half highlight “Mont Ventoux”, but the fuller instrumental sound of the record allows Tigers on Trains to chart a course into previously unexplored subtleties as well. For a great example of this, look no further than “From A Silver Till”, the album’s longest track and a slow burn of epic proportions. It never reaches “Garden Shed” levels volume-wise, but the sonic world developed through the soaring vocal harmonies and reverb-soaked electric strums fashions a captivating atmosphere.

Intricate instrumentation like this isn’t the only way Tigers on Trains excel at world building; in fact, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, as the band’s lyricism is the clear highlight and focal point of their musical expression. Drawing from a smorgasbord of influences such as mythology, world religions, and existential philosophy, Maggio and Van Deurs toe the line between humility and profundity with ease, examining the fundamental absurdity of existence while also leaving the record posing more questions than answers. “Myrrhine” weaves an imagery-laden tale of compassion and hope that becomes much more complicated to listen to when one realizes that it coexists with “There Is No Prize”, a borderline nihilistic consideration of meaning and mortality. The use of religious metaphors, such as references to the thorn in the Apostle Paul’s side on “A Chain” or loved ones turning to salt on “Washington State” serve to provide hope that a true meaning really may be out there, regardless of what books or lived experience may have influenced one to believe. The album lyrically grows more personal the closer the listener arrives to its conclusion, culminating in the gorgeous “Sawmill”, a tale of building a life and affirming it, despite the apparent meaninglessness of it all. These themes are only strengthened by the band’s new musical direction, as the new ethereal electric sounds serve to make the presence of the vocals feel a bit smaller in comparison to the vast expanse of the world built by the musicians.

Foundry is a triumph and a perfect second step for Tigers on Trains to have taken following their debut. Its combination of newly developed musical influences accompany the signature aspects of the band’s musical identity with ease and efficiency, building a sophisticated and breathable musical atmosphere for Maggio and Van Deurs to whisper their mythic tall tales into. Upon repeated listens, one thing becomes clear. Foundry’s beauty and brevity point toward a powerful and salient truth, and maybe the most important thought to be conjured by the record; it’s all beautiful, and it will all pass within the blink of an eye.



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user ratings (117)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (4)
Tigers on Trains deliver another phenomenal indie-folk record and make it look easy....



Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

first review in 4 years, more people need to listen to this

Digging: Domestic Terminal - I Could See Midnight Sky

Bilbodabag
December 1st 2020


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yay, you finally got around to this

Colton
December 1st 2020


7226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet Trip >



Good review though pos’d

Digging: Pinegrove - Amperland, NY

YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol took me long enough @bilbo



glad to see you've heard this colt! it's a gem

Bilbodabag
December 1st 2020


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You really wrote this whole review and somehow didn't mention Long Sleeves once

Colton
December 1st 2020


7226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it is, great band. Been waiting for a new album for a long time now

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 1st 2020


36503 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pleasantly surprised to see another review for this after all this time. I initially underrated this because I was expecting another Grandfather. This is at least a 4.5. It's brilliant in its own way. My favorite tracks here were always Mont Ventoux, A Chain, and In Atlas Cedars...in that order. Great write-up, too.

Digging: Slaughter Beach, Dog - At The Moonbase

YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Long Sleeves is totally the best song so that surprises me as well haha

Deathconscious
December 1st 2020


25804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I should probably 5 this.

Bilbodabag
December 1st 2020


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Need new music from these guys. Been way too long

YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I should probably 5 this."





do it do it do it

Colton
December 1st 2020


7226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How am I just now seeing there's THREE eps by these guys that I haven't heard??

Deathconscious
December 1st 2020


25804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Come to think of it i dont think ive ever checked those either, how in the fuck.

YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

they're not on spotify so lmk where you guys find them

Colton
December 1st 2020


7226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wtf Grandfather is the only one on apple music now

Feather
December 1st 2020


6426 Comments


yoooo, I am gunna relisten to this band today now, will check back and read the review later.

Bilbodabag
December 1st 2020


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Last year I tried out some alternatives to Spotify and that was the main reason I couldn't do Apple Music haha

YoYoMancuso
December 1st 2020


13466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

didn't google play not have any of their albums?

Colton
December 1st 2020


7226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It has virtually the exact same library

Feather
December 1st 2020


6426 Comments


Spotify is the pinnacle of streaming, do not question it. Also get on a Family Plan with 6 friends (or your family) and it is only $2.50 a month per person.



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