Movie Stars and Gossip
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It has been a long time since Travis first reached the consciousness of the nation at large with huge single ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’ in the summer of 1999. They were, for a time, the biggest band in the country and trod the path that bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay followed and Mumford & Sons continue to tread. After years of silence it seemed as if the band had drifted into the sunset but it turns out that instead they were taking their time to make a record that stands proudly when held against their previous efforts.
The band sound energised and refreshed after the five year gap between this and their last album, ‘Ode To J.Smith.’ The new single ‘Where You Stand’ sounds effortless and picks up where the band left off without missing a step. The first track, ‘Mother’ is more evidence of this with a chorus of “Why did we wait so long?” barrelling along with as much youthful enthusiasm as anything from their debut LP ‘Good Feeling.’
‘Moving’ is bright and pressing as it leans towards becoming anthemic. ‘Warning Sign’ is cute and ‘Another Guy’ is drenched in the style of U2 s more delicate moments. Where the first half of the album delights there is a slight sense of lost momentum as the hooks subside in the second half of the record, but this is more of a change in gear rather than a drop in quality. ‘A Different Room’ is a perfect vessel for the romantic side of Healy’s vocals and the start of ‘On My Wall’ is reminiscent of a livelier version of the 2000 single ‘Coming Around.’ A big highlight of the record is the combination of the melancholy and haunting ‘Boxes’ and ‘The Big Screen’ to close out the album.
Lyrically, this is not a particularly strong collection but that can be forgiven when the melodies begin to wash over you. Around a quarter of the way through the record little niggles like that cease to be a problem as it’s just nice to have the band back and on good form.
Critics often accuse Travis of being dull and boring. It is not always easy to see how these conclusions are drawn but it suggests that the critic hasn’t taken the time to listen to the whole record closely. As always Fran Healy’s vocals are warm and safe. The music is delicate and the main thought of each and every second of the record is to be sincere. This is not a band interested in fame and hit songs. Their music is emotional and true to itself, that is all it ever tries to be. The songs on ‘Where You Stand’ do not force their melodies into your head as weightily as some of their previous work but they still make their way in eventually. From a distance ‘Where You Stand’ may seem beige but if you are willing to give it your full attention and repeat listens you will be rewarded as you notice the delicate intricacies woven in.
It is unlikely that the Travis fan base will swell with new members on the back of ‘Where You Stand.’ There are no big singles to be had here but in the vein of ‘The Man Who’ and ‘The Invisible Band’ this is a genuine album rather than a collection of individual songs and that allows Travis to work to their best.
‘Where You Stand’ is the seventh album by the Scottish band and is released on their own label, Red Telephone Box. It is out now.
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