You know how in your dentist's office the soothing sounds of Richard Marx mix with the hum of live tooth drills? Whoever produced Train's new album, California 37, should have added in an extra layer or two of dental cleaning ambiance to all the master tracks to make things feel more comforting. Because hearing these songs outside of some sterile, purgatory-like waiting room feels as empty and desperate as a surging opiate addiction.
There's a pervasive feeling you've reached the depths of cultural vapidity right from the beginning on California 37, with each track rolling out with the kind of fever-induced hell-spawn of Top-40 jabbing only Train could produce. Opener "This'll Be My Year" documents Train's nightmarish rise to become the grand overlords of Old Navy playlists by naming-checking some of the lamest pop cultural milestones imaginable and interspersing them with more personal anecdotes: "Microsoft bites into Mac/My dad has a second heart attack."
Train's reptilian vocalist, Patrick Monahan, has a particular knack for the kind of lazy lyrics that make you want to walk directly into the nearest sharp object: "Don't cry when I die/ When it's my time I probably won't die/ I'll just lie down and close my eyes/ And think about stuff," begins "Finally Meet My Mom."
Monahan aside, the accompanying, I guess you could call it rock-ish music, is so vacant, flimsy and generic it should have been produced by IKEA. California 37 does one thing extremely well, though: it makes you numb to both music and life, and maybe that's the best argument to name it as the official soundtrack to root canals the world over.