Travis - Where You Stand (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S been five years since we last heard from Scottish rockers Travis (the little heard Ode to J. Smith) and even longer still since they were able to command the sort of attention that career-making albums The Man Who and 12 Memories garnered them.
It could be said, therefore, that comeback album Where You Stand has a lot riding on it. And it’s safe to say that those who have previously enjoyed Travis will warm to this pretty quickly.
The melodies are tight, the soft rock format pleasingly intact, the lyrics still the right side of cheeky and a fair few tracks have instant likeability, beginning with genuinely bright opening track Mother, which initially unfolds amid a subtle electronic pulse and some intricate guitar licks before blossoming into beautiful life not long after the minute mark.
It’s then, with pianos, drums and a more vibrant acoustic sound, that you remember why you fell in love with Travis in the first place, as well as a lush chorus that finds Fran Healey channelling Bono complete with harmonious backing vocals.
Indeed, there’s even something a little self-fulfilling when Healey sings: “Why did we wait so long?” Almost as if the band themselves regret the decision to have been on such a long hiatus when they are capable of sounding this good.
Moving maintains the early momentum with an instantly appealing guitar intro and another song drenched in bright melodies and a tight chorus, while Reminder unfolds amid some breezy whistling and serves up another deliciously sing-along chorus, albeit in slightly more mid-tempo fashion.
Elsewhere among the highlights, New Shoes also has an instantly warming quality about it, as well as a breezy Jack Johnson kind of vibe, while there’s a retro swinging ’60s pop sensibility in the barnstorming On My Wall, which contains some of the sharpest guitar hooks on the LP.
That’s not to say there aren’t some tracks that qualify as bland, while the album ends with a whimper rather than a bang, with Boxes nice but underwhelming and The Big Screen a forgettable piano ballad that seems like an odd choice to round things off.
But overall, this is a decent comeback that has to qualify as a success.
Download picks: Mother, Reminder, New Shoes, On My Wall