Travis - Singles

Call me an old pedantic, curmudgeon if you wish, but why don't singles compilation collections have the songs in chronological order? Would it be asking to much to chart a bands career properly? Apparently so as Travis's album has the hits scattered around in no particular order. At best this is inadvisable, at worst downright sloppy. On the plus side this does have 17 Travis singles which vary in quality depending on personal opinion.

I like to remember Travis back in the early days when they supported Mansun on tour and had a bit of life in them. The likeable band soon suffered from Stereophonics Syndrome, i.e. release a cracking debut album, then play it safe with more radio friendly songs albeit with the occasional great song re-surfacing to remind us what they're capably of when they really put their minds to it. "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" is the best of their sensitive soul searching ballads by a long chalk. The string arrangements, vocal and sweeping majesty of the lyrics deserved to be highly successful as it was genuinely moving. Bear in mind that this was before Coldplay and more recently Snow Patrol cornered the market in this musical genre.

Their latest single "Walking In The Sun" is however lazy. It's not exactly bland, but it is Travis by numbers if slightly jauntier than usual. Much better is "U16 Girls" from 1997 which is an under valued, in your face rock track that displays a rougher edge to Fran Healy's voice with the catchiest chorus ever to grace a Travis single. The guitars are high in the mix with the band seemingly enjoying performing an undiluted rock n roll track. This is a side to Travis i'd love to see again.

"Turn" closes the album and it's all right if you're feeling melancholic and reflective, but I sometimes get the impression that Travis could be holding back. If they could just do something slightly different and surprising then I for one, like their song, would be happy. "Singles" is a mixed bag of the good and the slightly less inspired, but fans of Travis will of course love every minute of it. For the rest of us it's an instrument document of their career so far, if a tad repetitive at times.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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