At this point, most people have made up their mind about Train. They are one of the most divisive bands around, adored by their loving fans, and despised in critical and alternative circles. Play that Song is unlikely to change either of these group’s minds, and as such, there’s something quite respectable about Train continuing to iterate on the style their fans love so much, in spite of said style’s faults.
Play that Song isn’t exactly the same as Train’s previous record, which was actually a covers album of Led Zeppelin II. It’s poppier, and even though it’s built around circular acoustic guitar, the production has quite a slick, digital sheen. The song interpolates the melody of the 1938 classic Heart and Soul, which is pretty neat, but the track still sounds like vintage Train, along with everything that entails.
The production is clean and simple, built around the aforementioned guitar, along with a metronomic, drum-machine beat, and horn samples to round out the mix. Most of the focus is squarely on vocalist Patrick Monahan’s story about trying to get a DJ to play a certain song, so he can get laid. It’s essentially a musical incarnation of characters like Ted Moseby, or JD from Scrubs, in that is mixes earnestness and douchiness in a way that either proves endearing, or annoying, depending on your perspective.
There’s one fairly gross moment when Monahan asks a homeless man to play the song his paramour likes, and if he does he’ll “throw some money in your cup”, but it feels of a piece with the self-absorbed naivety Monahan’s character exhibits throughout the track. Play that Song is a Train song, and there’s not a huge amount more that needs to be said about it. If you’ve liked the band’s previous hits, then you’ll like this, but if you didn’t, steer clear.