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Travis - The Boy With No Name

Travis, The Boy With No Name

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CHRIS Martin recently credited Travis with being the band that helped to “invent” Coldplay.

They were the original purveyors of moody, bittersweet pop following hits such as Writing To Reach You, Driftwood and Why Does It Always Rain On Me?.

And they certainly paved the way for some of the acts of the moment to ply their trade on such a big scale – most notably Snow Patrol.

But following the commercial disappointment of the under-rated 12 Memories LP three years ago, Travis drifted from the scene in order to re-experience life away from music.

The Boy With No Name marks their return and while it’s a typically solid offering, it’s not quite the emphatic comeback fans may have been anticipating.

But then even lead singer Fran Healy admits: “I’m not going to sit here and say this is the best record of the past 20 years. But I think we’ve made a really good album. It feels like we’re back.”

Certainly, in lead single Closer, the band proves they’ve lost none of their ability to create warm, shimmering ballads. The song is dripping in emotion and finds Healy in excellent form vocally, whilst tipping its hat to the style of James (during the chorus) and Coldplay in the build-up.

It’s a clever choice to launch the album given that it contains an easy appeal for even listeners that might not be aware of some of their earlier hits.

Thereafter, it’s like getting re-acquainted with old friends such is the welcome glow of familiarity. Not every track hits – but this is a solid album that should provide Travis with a strong platform from which to push forward with the next phase of their career.

Highlights include album opener 3 Times And You Lose, a classic Travis offering that drops some infectious guitar riffs around a bittersweet song about “feeling trapped and anonymous in the big city”; the sprightly, almost Iggy Pop-esque Selfish Jean, which again proves their ability to marry upbeat melodies with darker lyrics (“you hung me up by my heart”), and Big Chair, which drops a funky rhythm section over a tale of loneliness and rejection (including some wonderfully haunting piano chords).

There’s more fine guitar work on the breezy Battleships, an altogether rockier, foot-stomping vibe on Eyes Wide Open and a beautifully enchanting ode to Fran’s then unborn son Clay on My Eyes – one of the catchiest, happiest songs on the LP (which actually takes its name from the fact that Fran and his wife, Nora, couldn’t settle on a name for their son for some weeks and this was how he was known).

Colder, meanwhile, is the type of track that showcases the Travis sound at its most epic, hinting at the reach of Snow Patrol while simultaneously hinting at the band’s own weather-related imagery in some of their previous biggest hits.

With so much going for them, Travis should find little problem in finding their way into people’s affections again. They haven’t tried to re-invent themselves or deliver something different – emerging as pleasantly content to remind people about what made them so admired in the first place.

Download picks: Closer, My Eyes, Big Chair, 3 Times And You Lose, Colder, Selfish Jean

Track listing:

  1. 3 Times And You Lose
  2. Selfish Jean
  3. Closer
  4. Big Chair
  5. Battleships
  6. Eyes Wide Open
  7. My Eyes
  8. One Night
  9. Under The Moonlight
  10. Out In Space
  11. Colder
  12. New Amsterdam
  13. Sailing Away