The Indie Equation

The Unholy Marriage of Music and Math.


Equation #30: Travis

Simulcast on


Were Travis ever cool? I can't tell. I used to listen to "The Man Who" and think that it was cool; it had nice melodies, it had those infectious early Coldplay guitar chimes, it was basically left over 80's pop without the weird clothes and big hair. But I'm listening to Travis' new album "The Boy with No Name" and it's almost exactly the same as "The Man Who", which was released in 1999. Their last album "12 Memories" was a bit heavier, a bit more produced and pretty much overtly political. I didn't really like it much. That album was easy, I formed an opinion on it and stuck to it and a few years later I'm still satisfied with that opinion. However "TBWNN" is causing me some confusion; can a band effectively release the same album with different chords and words eight years later and still hope to stay relevant?

Well, apparantly so, in this case. Travis has doubled back to cover the same "puss-rock" path they blazed in 1997, (you know, the one that Coldplay and Keane followed them down, snapping twigs and trampling foliage?) using much of the same relaxed, mellow production, easy melodies and pacifying arrangements that made them semi-famous as poster boys for adult contemporary soft-rock. They've recreated themselves as an earlier version of themselves, but the question remains: is that so bad? I mean where could Travis really go? They can't jump from the inevitable and lazy Radiohead comparisons to the more popular and equally lazy U2 comparison like Coldplay did, they can't beef up and try to be tough because the led singer's name is Fran, and they can't get any MORE mellow or they'd risk turning into Smooth Jazz and their only fans would be female office workers in their early 40s. Not to say that that's not the primary bulk of their fan base, but there's still a nugget of folk like me who still enjoy a bit of mellow Top 40 every now and again. So what are we left with? It's been 10 years since Travis' debut and if you were to measure their creative growth in steps toward the refrigerator then they bumped into the dog's water dish and fell backwards into the recycling bin. I DARE you to decipher that metaphor. However this album is filled with truly enjoyable songs, I'm super cereal! It's got more puss than a cat show and offers about as much to the modern music collective as a Right Said Fred Greatest Hits compilation it's still kinda catchy and kinda pretty and kinda...... nice. Just, really, gosh-darned nice.

So, I'm 400 or so words into this review and I still haven't really formed an opinion about this album, and I know that's hard for you readers because without my vastly enlightened opinion on records you're just flopping around like fish on a porch swing, so I'll scrunch my face up real hard, bear down and grunt out a position on whether this album is good or bad.



Post a Comment

<< Home