Single Review: Train “Calling All Angels”

Calling All Angels
Album: My Private Nation
Year: 2003

With the photo of the ocean’s waves crashing front and center of their website, Train is marketing themselves as an arty, intelligent rock band. Photos in black and white flash on the side, featuring band members in staged candid moments.Their astounding amount of brillance makes it so they feel like are misunderstood by the general public: “we are our own island; I don’t know if a lot of people even understand us.” That’s mostly due to their convoluted songwriting which badgers and destroys metaphors to their overwritten deaths.

In the self-important “Calling All Angels,” Train wants to better the world and fill it with rainbows, hearts, and stars for all those who have ever lost hope. Lead singer Pat Monahan sings in the first verse that he’s looking for the person who gives him hope because of all the evil stuff going on (“I need a sign to let me know you’re here/all of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere…Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup”). Ok, a cup is tiny and fragile while the sea is vast. With some logic (since I’m only one bothering to use it) he means that he feels small in this big, bad world.

Next he sings: “when there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head/when you feel the world shake from the words that are said.” The first lyric is trying to be too clever. But the second lyric is actually good. The personfication of the world reacting to the people that inhabit it conveys an uneasy feeling.

The second verse is actually simplistic and gets to the point (“I want a reason for the way things have to be/I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me”) Then it’s on to the short chorus where Monahan calls for angels to save our precious Earth (“And I’m calling all angels/I’m calling all you angels”)

Monahon tugs at the heartstrings with the last verse, focusing on how children must stay inside to escape kidnappers and marriages that are falling apart due to secrets (“When children have to play inside so they don’t disappear/And private eyes solve marriage lies cause we don’t talk for years”). Teenage dating a big concern for Monahan because again, it could destroy the person’s will to want a job or better themselves (“And football teams are kissing Queens and losing sight of having dreams”). But nonetheless, we’re greedy people and only want more and more (“what we want is only what we want until it’s ours.”)

For a song trying to teach everyday people about hope, it’s quite cynical. It also plays heavily upon the fear factor: kidnappers are everywhere! People are cheating on their spouses! It could the theme song to the Homeland Security Department with all the fear tactics in the lyrics.

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