Album Review

Steel Train, 'Steel Train'

July 5, 2010

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Steel Train is among those bands whose members weaned in the ’90s and are now busting out their coming-of-age anthems. The band handles the job well on its new self-titled album, capturing the angst and uncertainty of young adulthood with freshly rendered details. The songs burrow into scenes of tentative maturity, offering lyrics torn between nursery-rhyme frivolity and declarations of defiance. Songwriter and singer Jack Antonoff’s nervousness about his future may not be a new malady, but the way he sings about his position on the verge of freaking out certainly entertains. The band’s punk-pop pedigree prevents the album from sinking into bouts of self-absorption or outright despair, and Steel Train’s broad view yields a nice variety of songs: There’s the gilded ballad “Behavior,’’ the tweaked glam of “Turnpike Ghost,’’ and the legit arena shaker “Bullet.’’ The only misstep is an occasional echo of Vampire Weekend, which is bound to draw sneers. The New Jersey quintet has often erred on the side of audacious, and keeps it up here with songs that employ string sections, singalong choruses, falsetto vocals, and searing guitar solos — devices that will hook listeners onto these stories of personal tumult. Fortunately, there is substance beneath the sheen. (Out now.) SCOTT McLENNAN

ESSENTIAL “You and I Undercover’’

Steel Train plays July 23 at the Middle East