Travis – The Boy With No Name
Release Date: May 8, 2007
Record Label: Sony
There is a reason that we get a lot of the UK’s musical offerings filtering over here into our radio pool. Quite honestly, it is because a good deal of it is just plain better than what American artists are churning out. It is almost uncanny how so many Scottish and English artists are able to do what they do – create affecting, sincere, melodic, yet catchy tracks all with an off-the-cuff kind of casual nature that makes it seem like second nature to them. Travis has always been such a band, and it continues to show.
While the band in question had a string of memorable, noteworthy albums starting with Good Feeling on through The Invisible Band, the outlook became noticeably bleaker with the release of the strange, off-putting attempt at progressive political Britpop that was 12 Memories. After this attempt for a decidedly non-Radiohead band to be Radiohead-ish, Travis seemed to wave the white flag with their singles collection release. Thankfully, however, this is not the case, as Travis has not only returned – but has returned to form with the excellent The Boy With No Name.
From the shaky, almost sheepish first notes of Fran Healy’s fragile delivery on “3 Times and You Lose” it is readily apparent how things fall right back into place for our Glasgow-grown minstrels. Add in a few clean acoustic dabbles and the same humble presentation that made The Man Who so noteworthy, and you have all of the components for a repeat success. Another great thing about this Travis is that their latest offering is not strictly limited to mopey, rainy-day soundtracking, but rather exists as an ideal balance of the just-plain-sweet and bittersweet. While shoegazers will bask in the sullen introspection of the albums opener, “Closer,” and “Out in Space,” the real treat is when Healy and the boys soften up a little. And here, they do that perhaps more than they have on any other work, since Good Feeling.
Whether it be the gleeful guitar bounce of “Selfish Jean” (and its hilarious Demetri Martin-cameo’d video), the sparse atmospherics of “Big Chair”, the gorgeous, falsetto-laden “Battleships,” or the very “Flowers in the Window”-esque “My Eyes,” there is such variety to appreciate and fall in love with on Travis’ latest offering. For those of us that still break out our copies of What’s the Story (Morning Glory) from time to time, or lament where mainstream pop-rock has gone in this country, it is good to know that we can still get some fantastic flowdown from our European brethren. And until Idlewild gets back to where it was on The Remote Part, it seems quite safe to say that Travis might just be the best Scottish pop band making music today. Take note, musicmakers – tunes can be catchy without being overly flashy and can still be emotionally affecting without being sappy or contrived. On The Boy With No Name, Travis shows us all just how it is done.
I saw Travis open up for Oasis at a theater show. Beat that!
Ha. I guess I can't but I have seen Oasis once in my life. It's funny cause right after I met Fran Healy, I thought should have asked him what it was like to play with Noel Gallagher. That would have been a fucking great question to ask. I did get The Man Who completely signed and talked to Dougie about the song he wrote on The Boy With No Name "Colder".