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Travis - 12 Memories


Review: Jack Foley

IT'S been two years since Travis released The Invisible Band and a lot has happened since then.

For starters, the world has changed, post September 11 - a fact not missed by Fran Healy and co.

While Travis, themselves, have endured a life-altering experience that was very close to home - when drummer, Neil Primrose, sustained a spinal injury in a freak accident.

Hence, it is a wonder 12 Memories exists at all, yet, thankfully, it does, and the ensuing 11 records are a typically strong collection, which aren't afraid to tackle some difficult issues.

Current single, Re-Offender, for instance, dares to take a look at the effects of domestic violence, while Peace The Fuck Out is one of three devoted to the fallout from the war in Iraq (or war on terror).

Yet while many bands ram their message down listeners' throats in a somewhat clumsy fashion, Travis possess the ability to make their point without ever feeling preachy.

The melodies are as lush and seductive as ever before, couched in some beautiful strings and piano, while the guitars are equally well-observed, without ever seeming too intrusive.

Travis may be tackling some weighty subjects (probably the boldest of their career), yet they seldom sound depressing, thereby avoiding comparisons with the likes of Radiohead, for instance.

At its best, 12 Memories gives way to some really great records, such as the chirpy Somewhere Else, or the entrancing Love Will Come Through (which was previously only available to download as a taster of the album).

My personal favourite, however, is the brooding Walking Down The Hill, a completely haunting track, with tingling piano throughout, which epitomises everything that Travis are about - quality, intelligent, thought-provoking songwriting.

12 Memories may not be as instantly accessible as the likes of The Man Who or The Invisible Band - given its darker edge and tougher subject matter - but it might yet prove the most durable.

Track listing:
1. Quicksand
2. The Beautiful Occupation
3. Re-Offender
4. Peace the Fuck Out
5. How Many Hearts
6. Paperclips
7. Somewhere Else
8. Love Will Come Through
9. Mid-Life Krysis
10. Happy to Hang Around
11. Walking Down the Hill

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