Drops Of Jupiter is the second album by Train  and it continues in the country-influenced folk rock of the band’s self-titled debut. The album achieved platinum success, continuing the band’s popularity, largely thanks to the success of “Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)” as a top 20 single and the follow up success of “Something More,” which continued the band’s upward commercial trajectory. Artistically, the album is a progression from the debut in that it contains some excellent album tracks and greater production values, and it also includes a mildly amusing video about the making of the album which finds the band in expansive form (Pat Monahan is particularly deadpan as an unreliable narrator). Of particular interest is that the band’s big hit from this album came after a long spell of writer’s block, which would inspire the band to keep trying to write a hit song that would make their album feel complete in the future. The album showed growth, was successful, and contains a variety of intriguing tracks. What follows is a track-by-track review.
She’s On Fire – The third single from the album and a minor hit, this song shows the band’s continuing interest in portraying and analyzing women in the context of romance and a mixture of admiration and suspicion. It has a memorable title, good guitar work, and some excellent vocal harmonies and could very easily have been a massive country hit, in a good way.
I Wish You Would – This bluesy roots rock song finds the band lamenting love lost, with some excellent harmonica playing to complement the generally melancholy gin soaked lyrics. One suspects that the evenhandedness of the song reflects a dysfunctional relationship with two people afraid of commitment, not a particularly unlikely situation for some people to be in.
Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me) – This moving piano ballad was a well-deserved smash hit about a man musing about a woman with a tendency to roam, galactically speaking, with more than a hint of world weariness and longing. Its lush springs and intriguing lyrics hint at depth, detail, and enough New Age mysticism to capture a wide degree of interest. Over and over again the narrator asks if his lady love missed him while she was looking for herself.
It’s About You – This song has some sparse instrumentation, contains a sly hinting reference to Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” in its chorus, and shows a somewhat clumsy attempt to show honor to a woman that the narrator appears to consider as a no-strings attached fling. The singer promises fun and a “freefall” for his intended, but his unwillingness to talk about what he’s done is a bit ominous in terms of long-term success.
Hopeless – This deeply melancholy ballad, my favorite song from the album, is a natural follow-up to the previous song. The singer apparently developed feelings for his fling (she of the “secret midnight calls”) and finds that he suspects she has been unfaithful and playing with him. The result is a mournful but beautiful examination of heartbreak that still contains hope (perhaps hope against hope) that they will become a couple. This song honestly and painfully paints a picture of alternating despair and longing, and does so with immense sincerity.
Respect – This song is a driving mid-tempo roots rock song about respect. It includes some of Monahans’s trademark covert white boy rapping (not that there is anything wrong with that) and obviously strives for a soulful vibe that is a bit more slight because of its repetitive chorus and bridge than most of the rest of this album, but it is effective and enjoyable album filler that manages to reference other songs that are an obvious homage. The sax work is excellent, though.
Let It Roll – This song returns the album to a slower (perhaps even languid) pace, with its guitar work showing a distinctly country vibe. The song captures the feeling of a lonely late night drive full of melancholy pondering about what the narrator is missing and longing for which is, perhaps obviously, love. The song reflects on the passage of time and on love lost, and was probably written while the band was lonely and on the road.
Something More – This track, the second single from the album, was a well-deserved hit with a driving message of dissatisfaction with a dysfunctional relationship that finds the narrator looking for something more, trying to call a girl who will not answer or return his calls, and sleeping way too much (presumably out of depression). In terms of its frustration and desire for a reversal, it resembles the Police hit “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” and its melancholy strings and heartfelt lyrics make it a memorable and excellent song.
Whipping Boy – This song features some distorted guitar, a driving drumbeat, and some lyrics about respect that would not be out of place on an album a band like Stand, where the narrator’s willingness to bear the brunt of his partner’s anger appears to be more than a little ironic. Given the narrator’s earlier reluctance to come clean about his own behavior, it seems a bit odd that he would be so hard on a partner, but the instrument work is fine as usual on this album even if the lyrics are a bit unsatisfactory.
Getaway – The emotional rollercoaster of the album continues with some fuzzy guitar work that backs lyrics about the narrator’s desire for a former lover to come back to him, even if she has been disloyal to him. The narrator simultaneously longs for his partner to come back so he doesn’t have to be alone while simultaneously talking about how he needs to be over her, and that his holding on to her can’t be wrong if she indeed comes back to him. Like much of the rest of the album, it features a strong ambivalence of moods ranging from desperation to despair.
Mississippi – This song, one of the band’s many noble songs about state names (Meet Virginia, Idaho, etc.) ends the album on a suitably downbeat mood where the narrator appears to have resigned himself to the fact that his former lover does not flow for him any longer. The song contains some smooth trumpet work from the lead singer, but some downcast and gloomy lyrics that accurately reflect the heartbreak of unsuccessful romance.
As a song cycle, this song is an unhappy and melancholy album about a failed attempt at finding love. The album veers wildly between hope, a sense of fun in doing the wrong thing, and a lot of angsty and unhappy and melancholy reflections on the repercussions about loving the wrong person. As this is a fairly common experience in life (unfortunately) the bright mood of its first single appears to have captured a lot of interest that was sustained by a fuller and sadder perusal of the album’s full sweep of emotions ranging from initial flirtation and romance to the long chain of dysfunctional patterns of communication and the inevitable and unhappy conclusion.
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