Travis - The Man Who
Is it the fact that their music gets used for TV shows or commercials which puts people off? Is it the fact that "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" was, for a time, everybody's favourite track to be played at all occasions and in all settings, without discrimination or regard for what it was written about? Is it the (unfair) comparisons with Radiohead? Travis and Radiohead bear no comparison. Travis play music to appeal to people: Radiohead play music to pump up their own, and particularly Thom Yorke's ego. Travis are at least a genuine band, for all their flaws: Radiohead are just an exercise in pretension fuelled by the fact that their fanboys go into orgasms every time Thom even squaks.
This is basically good, light hearted pop which occasionally aspires to brilliance and very occasionally achieves it. "Writing to Reach You" is one of the highlights, and the oft-played, oft-derided "Why Does It Always Rain On Me" still manages to raise a smile and invite me to sing along, just as it always did. Neither will win prizes for the best song ever written, but they are just plain old good songs. However, you have to wait for the album to progress somewhat before you reach the real gem. That gem is "Turn". As with the other good songs on the album, "Turn" is elevated by a catchy refrain and a good sing-along sound.
Travis' strength lies primarily in the vocal and lyrical ability of frontman Fran Healy. He has a good turn of words and, although a competent if not brilliant singer, is ideal for Travis. As a result, Travis sound at their best when they play to these strengths. On "Blue Flashing Light" for instance the band tackle the subject of domestic violence in a manner which is neither sensationalist nor demeaning and it is something which works well as a result. They fall short when they try to sound like someone else. In spite of the Radiohead comparisons, I hear too much of Oasis in here to feel entirely comfortable with it, though in truth Travis sound less like Oasis than, say, the Charlatans for example.
So what is people's problem with this album? To be honest I don't know. Could be that it is, to some ears, too inoffensive. Could be that it is too derivative (a charge I always hate in all but the most extreme cases). In my view I think Travis were a band whom people expect too much of. At a time when guitar-based music was taking something of a hammering in the UK, Travis could have been seen as the new poster boys of the six strings. Instead, they concentrated on trying to present tunes which appealed to the masses rather than striking out for others. So what. Surely what was important was not what they could have been but what they were and judging them on the former is bound to cause disappointment. On the other hand it could just be that some people find it is a little twee (some truth in this) but don't let prejudice blind you. Go on, have a listen. You may find something to surprise you.
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on 2012-06-04 dscanland Said:
I like Travis. This is album sits fine with me. I think everyone should have a Travis album in their collection.