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Big Big Train - Folklore CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.02 | 605 ratings

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3 stars English independent prog band Big Big Train follow up the pastoral delight that was English Electric with Folklore, and although EE was a hard act to follow, the strength of the songwriting has delivered a mostly successful album. There appears to be an interesting dichotomy in the songwriting department with the Train. Singer David Longdon seems to pen the more overtly nostalgic and "poppy" numbers, while founder member and bass guitarist Greg Spawton writes the meatier, proggier numbers.

This is obviously a personal opinion, and while a review attempts to be objective, there are obvious limits in that respect, there's only so much technical detail a reader can take, so yes, here's my subjective take...

The folkier numbers sometimes sound a little contrived, or forced, and no matter how many times I sit through Wassail, I will always wince at it, with its knees-up Bellowhead-playing-prog-with-a-prop-forward-on-drums cheeriness and its rugby crowd singalong chorus. This is one of Longdon's, and as I said before I much prefer the more eclectic and "rockier" approach taken by Spawton. The wonderful London Plane being a prime example. The hi-res download contains two bonus tracks, but as I have only the standard version I do not know who wrote the captivating Mudlarks, but I guess it was Spawton, and in my opinion (that again), the standard album would be better served with that track in place of the folk-poptastic Wassail, a classic single in the old-fashioned sense if ever there was one. Another Spawton track, The Transit of Venus Across The Sun shows his sophisticated writing to the max with some great vocal work, and an arrangement that really draws you in. It has to be said the better songs on Folklore are his.

Leaving Wassail aside (please!), the one other thing that holds me back from giving all five stars, is the melancholic nostalgia that is heaped on like treacle, harking for a "better" world that probably never existed. I realise this is by now Big Big Train's raison-d'etre, but how about writing about something up to date for a change? Only a British band could make a career out of looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles, it's one of our worst traits, longing for "the good old days". At least Transit... shows they can write about things other than our not always glorious heritage. More of that please!

Starless | 3/5 |


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