Review: The Choo Choo Trains - "Foggymotion"

The Choo Choo Trains - Foggymotion
(2015 Meat n Tatty)

A textbook example of original-wave twee pop, The Choo Choo Trains' sophomore effort, titled Foggymotion adheres devoutly to the paper-thin, often endearingly clumsy timbre of Tiger Trap, Beat Happening, and even The Magnetic Fields (circa Distant Plastic Trees). While in terms of jarringly lo-fi sound quality, the London-based trio could easily draw comparisons to acts like Julia Brown or Jackie Trash, but it's their employment of doo-wop inspired chord progressions and bluesy riffs that set them apart from their "tweemo" contemporaries. For example, opening track "Things You Do" utilizes a Spector-ian arrangement of tinny percussion, a groovy bassline and translucent guitar chords that coat the rhythm section like watercolors, blending with echoey, delicate vocals to form a sound that would fit surprisingly well in the rotation of the Beach Boys Pandora station that plays all day over a Bluetooth speaker at the popcorn/candy store I've been working at over the summer. Now that I think about it, perhaps my newfound familiarity with the Ronnettes and the Shirelles has really turned me on to the Choo Choo Train's reverby rock 'n roll twang. Aside from the smattering of c-86 influenced tunes, there are a few outliers clumped in the middle of the record: "Unlucky" is a rickety waltz that glides on a bouncy beat and rather dark piano chords. "The Sky" borders on Doors-era psychedelia, pairing organ drones with gritty lead guitar licks. If you have to check out any cut off the album, though, let it be "Margo T and Me", an addictively catchy tune that sounds like a cross between the McTells and the Shaggs.