Travis - 12 Memories
When Travis' drummer Neil Primrose nearly died due to a serious neck injury the future of the band was in jeopardy. However, now recovering, Travis return with a follow up to 2001's "The Invisible Band" with "12 Memories". Listening to their new album it's hard to believe that Travis used to make poppy classic singles like "Happy", "Tied To The 90s" and "All I Wanna Do Is Rock". With each successive album Travis make they become more serious, mournful and angst ridden. On "12 Memories" the sombre tone is understandable as the band were concerned about Neil's health plus the political climate has changed world events to a terrifying scary degree.
With a mournful piano and folky vocal from Fran Healy, "Quicksand" has a lush production reminiscent of the work George Martin made with the Beatles on their more introspective tracks. It's given a sophisticated sheen by having orchestral flourishes and a lilting, understated melody. Like Coldplay, Travis have spoken out against the war, played benefit gigs and written in the great tradition of Bob Dylan a protest song, a sentiment of the late Woody Gutherie would no doubt approve of. "Peace The F**K out" is all about choice, decision and using common sense. It doesn't preach, it just makes you aware of what's going on. It's typically Travis in tempo, but darker lyrically and strangely ends with football terrace chants. Slightly more upbeat is "Somewhere Else". Using a similar nursery rhyme structure as Radiohead's "No Surprises" this is yet another simple stripped down song with just a touch of piano. On "Walking Down The Hill" Fran informs us to "make your peace" as he mumbles away on an excruciatingly slow, turgid track which doesn't really go anywhere.
"12 Memories" wont change the minds of Travis' detractors as they stick to their winning formula with perhaps even more melancholy and reflections on life than before. There's just not much variation musically and it's repetition can become a little weary over an entire album. If Travis are to sustain a successful and lengthy career perhaps they need to broaden their horizons and change direction a little but as on "12 Memories" the band sound like they're treading water.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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