Travis are back. Admittedly, that's not the sort of statement that will get every music fan going. But what has to be remembered is that when the Glasgow band released their second album 'The Man Who' back in 2000, they were the band that everyone was watching.
Fast forward 13 years and three albums in between they have returned with their seventh album, 'Where You Stand'.
Gone are the days where Fran Healy sang about the pitfalls of jailbait teens in 'U16 Girls.' This album reflects a band that has naturally matured due to age and has also grown into their sound. After losing some momentum with an Iraq war protest tinged fourth album '12 Memories', the band followed up with 2007's 'The Boy With No Name' and 2008's 'Ode To J Smith'. The five year break has clearly re-invigorated the band.
The Travis sound that is instantly recognisable is alive and well and Fran Healy is as likeable and listenable as always. His voice has a softness and sort of fragility that gives the songs feeling. Fatherhood and family life has clearly brought him peace after being in some dark places at the beginning of the band's career.
The album's opening track, 'Mother', opens with a synth that feels way off in the distance which eventually gives way to an acoustic guitar and the tones of Healy.
The lyric "why did we wait so long?" could be a reference to their five year hiatus and are glad to be back making music again.
'Where You Stand', track four and also the title of the album, demonstrates how Healy has not lost the ability to deliver a song while feeling the emotion of the lyrics. The piano melody takes pole position on the song.
The rest of the album visits familiar Travis territory and is possibly the most gentle since 2001's 'The Invisible Band'. Fans expecting to hear the snarl from guitarist Andy Dunlop's Gibson and Fenders will be disappointed. But, as was referred to earlier, they are not the same kids who penned 'U16 Girls'.
'The Big Screen' rounds off the album in a manner similar to how it started. If 'moving' made its way towards the listener, then 'The Big Screen' gently takes it back off into the distance.
'Where You Stand' is a welcome addition the Travis catalogue. The band that many fans loved is back on form after five years away. And, in some way, considering what has been in the charts while they were away, fans won't be the only ones glad to have a band like Travis back. There is a welcome honesty in the work of Travis. Although sometimes dismissed as being bland by critics, this honesty is what some modern day acts struggle to convey.
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