I Like Trains - Beacons (I Like Records)

Straying from their tried-and-tested path of melancholic post-rock with the addition of electronica elements, Leeds-born foursome I Like Trains truly coloured outside their lines on recent album, The Shallows, with their somewhat ironic foray into technology – you'd think an album warning against the reliance on technology would feature less of the electro, not more. Regardless, the dour desperados valiantly battle forth with their fresher sound on the Beacons EP, bolstering their evolution and going more post-electronipunk than post-rock. Though presumably they still adorn funeral garb and shuffle silently onto their stage to weep at the crowd with their odes to historical figures.

Released Oct 15th, 2012 / By Larry Day
I Like Trains - Beacons (I Like Records) 'Beacons', a standout track from the album, has been given it's due as the headliner of the EP. Opening with that slightly fuzzy synth, Warpaint-esque wails of guitar and metronomic snare stabs, the group set their phasers to bawl – dripping with heartfelt emotion, this one isn't for those with a delicate disposition. The synthesizer is used sparingly: not thrown in your face, but definitely audible. This isn't a fully fledged transformation into synth-rock, but just a different side to the band we're only discovering now.

'Rome' is the highlight of the EP, even despite the calibre of the title track. It showcases a different side to the band, a shoegazier effort than we've heard before, with no scent of doom and despair. It's bittersweet. There's a mainstream aspect to the track, with a genuinely catchy chorus and synthpop chords; it's a sublime cut which should've made The Shallows, gorgeously produced and one of the most different songs from the band.

I Like Trains may not be the happiest bunch – has anyone actually seen them smile? – but that's why we love 'em. That crisp baritone and those thoroughly raw melodies are put simply, beautiful. They may not have the same media coverage that they did way back when, but there's a glaring reason they have a loyal following – they're downright brilliant.

'Easter Island' is oddly short (for I Like Trains) and instrumental. Acting as an audio interlude, it recalls some of the livelier moments of The xx with the melodic picking and slow climax. It leads straight into 'Jericho' so seamlessly that the two could blend into one another without you realising. It's got reverb-drenched guitars and a ticking drum machine, which when accompanied with the wrathful vocals from David Martin add a touch of menace to the EP. The underlying distorted drone runs through and into the final track on the album, 'The Setting Sun', as they inject the EP with a hearty dose of their signature post-rock sound. There are hints of The Jesus and Mary Chain in their doomed noises, with spiteful thrashes of fuzz – it's a tortuous journey they embark on, but the band build a dramatic climax as only they can, weaving white-noise guitars and straight rock percussion into the tapestry of untamed noises.

The only glimpses of I Like Trains' evolution we get between records are these EPs they release, always filled with extra tracks so good you struggle to wonder why they weren't singles themselves. Beacons is no different. The electro vein continues to be mined successfully, with the band adding touches of synthpop, shoegaze and noise-rock to their repertoire. It's just as deep and emotionful as anything else they've released, and it's a pleasure to know that I Like Trains have a lot more tricks up their tear-moist sleeves.