I Like Trains: The Deaf Institute

pocketknife endorse a clever array of complexities throughout their music. Discordant guitars, jarring time changes and an astronomical decibel range made for truly interesting viewing. However, a reluctance to engage with keen onlookers coupled with 30 minutes of purposefully inaccessible music, at times rendered the band intangible. The elements are there: brilliant vocals straight from the PJ Harvey book of singing, wizard-like musicality and a fierce passion but pocketknife seem to lack the element that allows an audience to connect with a band.

Unlike pocketknife, SWIMMInG were particularly enamouring and quickly turned the Deaf Institute into a sea of captivated eyes. The reason for this captivation you ask? Pick from a list of splendid vocals, effortlessly anthemic pop tunes, high standards of musical ability, plenty of stage presence and a cohesive yet varied set. Their ambience swilled around the room, at times making way for more direct and urgent crescendos all meshing together to create vivid tales, told with genuine conviction. Their narrative was as clear as the sound and the marriage of these two elements provided a stunning set. SWIMMInG could be big soon.

I Like Trains seem to have shed an image and style that once differentiated them from the fiercely competitive field of post-rock. For a start, they’re no longer iLiKETRAiNS; they’re simply I Like Trains. Musically, the band still employ a similar sound, still draw their influences from ‘history’ but in the past, iLT embodied this concept. Tonight, this embodiment seems to have disappeared, perhaps making the band seem less orchestral, not musically per say, more as an entity that once conjured fear from an audience and that concocted complex interwoven sounds and visuals. ILT once tricked you into believing the each individual member was genuinely concerned and interested yet apprehensive about scrutinising the unglamorous elements of British history.

This intensity dwindled tonight, making the band seem less confident and sure of their position in the industry. The departure of fifth member, Ashley may be responsible in some part to the removal of uniqueness – his visuals made the stories being told much more resonant – but all the same, the girth of ILT seems to have shrunk. That said, their new material, albeit a slight departure from their earlier material, is a refreshing change in direction. And the band is still masterful in creating suspense, utilising whispering quiets which intensifying to a strident conclusion exemplified in songs such as ‘Victress’. ILT are still exemplary post-rockers but the pioneering tactics that saw them rise to notoriety seem to be dissolving slowly, which has left a concerning void, yet to be successfully filled. Still relevant, still very much worth watching but the shine seems to wearing off I Like Trains.