First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12
Written by John Metzger
Those who discovered Travis through the infectious songs of its breakthrough
The Man Who and its follow-up The Invisible Band may be taken
aback by the Scottish groupís fourth outing 12 Memories. Rather than
continuing to churn out melodic, but melancholic pop that seems caught between
Radiohead, Oasis, and The Beatles, Travis opted to return to the U2-isms and
í80s rock of its debut Good Feeling. Not that 12 Memories is
necessarily a re-tread. Instead, the album is a transitional effort that wraps
the combined sonic structure of the bandís first three releases around its
blossoming and far gloomier socio-political perspective. Unfortunately, the end
result is somewhat disjointed, and despite have its heart in the right place,
the lyrics are occasionally awkward.
Then again, Travis always has been a more emotional than intellectual
ensemble, one that consistently has wrapped its bittersweet love songs as well
as its populist musings on peace and love within charmingly tender arrangements.
Granted, the group was sad enough to deliver a tune titled Why Does It Always
Rain on Me?, but there was always a sense of optimism tucked inside its
bubbly, buoyant music. That was, however, before Travisí world shattered. On a
global perspective, everything went to hell after George W. was placed in office
and Tony Blair lost his mind; closer to home, the bandís drummer was nearly
killed in a diving accident. No wonder the songs on 12 Memories are
uncomfortable and unsettling; itís a difficult task to focus on the positive
when oneís universe is in complete chaos.
Indeed, the biggest difference between 12 Memories and Travisí
previous efforts is that the groupís new album isnít nearly as immediately
accessible. The melodies just donít jump out and grab the listener like those on
The Man Who or The Invisible Band, and itís only after spending
some time with the song cycle that its mellifluous moments begin to emerge.
There are bits of The Beatles and the Beach Boys, and smatterings of R.E.M., The
Church, and Bends-era Radiohead. Still, this concoction never sounds like
a fully cohesive work. While the band always has worn its influences proudly
upon its sleeve, it has not sounded this unsure of itself since its debut.
Instead of embracing its new clothes, Travis seems merely to be trying them on
for size, laudably searching for some new realms to explore, but never quite
making them its own.
12 Memories is available
from Amazon. To order, Click Here!
For Canadian orders, please
For UK orders, please
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003
The Music Box