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Track Review

Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy sleeps with girl. Boy gets "scared as h‑‑‑." Boy leaves girl before she wakes up. Girl (wisely) decides boy was a bad idea. Boy begs for a second chance, swearing this time it will be different. Girl (unwisely) gives boy second chance. Boy asks if they can have sex again.

Now, what do you suppose is going to happen next?

That's pretty much the storyline speeding through Train's latest hit "Drive By." The radio-friendly San Francisco band has once again employed the services of the Norwegian songwriting duo known as Espionage, Espen Lind and Amund Bjørkland, the men behind Train's massive 2010 comeback hit " Hey, Soul Sister." And once again, these Norwegian pop prestidigitators have brewed up a tune with a virulently infectious acoustic vibe—a rhythm that feels so good you might be tempted to forgive the song's main character for his rather glaring character deficiencies … just as his female conquest is tempted to do.

When we first meet him, our "hero" is pining away for the woman he swept off her feet—and into bed—when he notices someone who looks like her. "On the other side of a street I knew/Stood a girl that looked like you." Certainly not the most romantic prelude to his song-long apology for lovin' and leavin'.

In a flashback, the story unfolds in reverse. He's "haunted" by the memory of their memorable night together ("Oh, but that one night/Was more than just right"), and he tells her he left before she awoke because he was just too freaked out by how much he liked her ("I didn't leave you 'cause I was all through/Oh, I was so overwhelmed"). A verse later, he slathers on the apologetic seduction even thicker: "On the upside of a downward spiral/My love for you went viral/And I loved you every mile you drove away."

Meanwhile, the chorus amps up his sweet-talking shtick as he promises and pleads, "I swear to you/I'll be there for you/This is not a drive by," the latter phrase apparently an automotive metaphor for their one-night stand.

She buys it. And he immediately blurts, "So let's skip the 'How you been' and/Get down to the 'more than friends' at last." Not so subtly hinting at their physical connection, another repeated line in the chorus relishes "the way you do me."

Worse, after Act II concludes, he's out the door again … and already begging for another shot at her heart the next time he turns up: "Please believe that when I leave/There's nothing up my sleeve but love for you/And a little time to get my head together too."

A little time to get his head together? I thought he's done that the first time around! Hopefully this time she won't return his calls. But I wouldn't bet on it.

In the video we see the pair trading glances and smiles, and then they're in a motel-room bed. She's wearing a plunging camisole when she wakes … alone. And the whole things concludes with him serenading her with his promise of future faithfulness. "This is not a drive by," he once again insists.

So she rides off into the sunset with him, leaving me to wonder how long it'll be before she finds herself in an empty bed again.

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Peaked at No. 10.

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January 10, 2012

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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