Travis - The Invisible Band

Perhaps were looking a little too deep. Maybe were analysing when there is nothing to be analysed. Maybe were just trying to intellectualize what is basically low art. Hence the title. The need to slip away. That need to remove the people from the product and the product from the person and leave us with 12 throwaway pop tunes. "The Invisible Band" achieves that real distinction between being A.I.B (Another Indie Band) and for want of a better phrase - an albums band.

Stripped away of all the "U16 Girls" and "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" style anthems and replaced with more subtle nugget melodies. True, the first time you listen to "The Invisible Band" there will be a sense of disappointment if the feeling hadn't sank in already. But in retrospect maybe this Travis backlash was more to do with "familiarity breeds contempt" rather than any fault of the band themselves. At a time when Travis' critical, if not necessarily commercial, reputation is at stake it seems strange that they release "Sing" (the worst song on the album) as the comeback single. Forthcoming single "Flowers In The Window" is the song of the summer festivals. At times coming across as an even softer Paul McCartney or a more wimpy Crowded House, yet the romantic sentiment can touch all of us once in a while.

If anything what lets down "The Invisible Band" from becoming a truly essential guitar album is Fran Heally's lyrical simplicity. While it could be argued that he's touching the man on the street often it appears that the rhyming dictionary has been raided ala Noel Gallagher. Fine, if you're simply looking for a throwaway pop band but then you have to question are Travis any more worthy than A1. When the band avoid the usual clichés on "The Humpty Dumpty Love Song" you can't help feeling that if they just had the strength of character then they could make an album of true merit. Maybe that truly classic guitar album is something of the past, but all "The Invisible Band" offers you is a cheap and quick hit. There's nothing here to inspire a future generation although thousands will sing along to the likes of "Side" or "Afterglow". With three albums now behind then you can only hope the next album is a little more eclectic and experimental. It may seem unlikely at the moment but some of us remember when Radiohead and Blur released 3 minute pop ditties. Travis have got a choice - turn into Wet Wet Wet or join the big boys.

Alex McCann