The kings of Scotland ‘Travis’, return with a breezy collection of gentle indie songs just in time for the summer
One of the true jewels of Scotland, celebrated heroes of indie Travis recently released their eighth studio album ‘Everything At Once’. Never one to shake the system too much, the four men from Glasgow give us what is expected of them: straightforward soft-rock sprinkled with emotive lyrics.
First track ‘What Will Come’ treads on familiar territory for the quartet – an easy listening opener to keep things simple and, well, nice. This is followed by ‘Magnificent Time’, which has another tint of happy-go-lucky about it. Travis have written some, shall we say, melancholy songs for previous efforts – this could be them trying to balance it out with the help of Keane ivory-tickler Tim Rice-Oxley. Their more recent acoustic-heavy brand of Britpop is very positive and uplifting. Turning up the volume a bit more on the aptly named ‘Radio Song’ brings the uplifting summer feelings around early, and vocalist Fran Healy manages to throw in some alalalala’s for good measure.
The bass intro on the track ‘Paralysed’ is the only feature that makes the song memorable, but is saved by the following track ‘Animals’. Written by bassist Dougie Payne, the lyrics serve as a gentle reminder that no matter what intelligent qualities we human beings possess, we should remember that at the end of the day, we’re all just animals – put it beside the pop-rock structure and you’ve got yourself a strong number. Nothing on this album has thrown a curveball as of yet, as song after song is pinned at the same length of around three minutes. Travis have a formula and they stick to it; what you see is what you get. Even then, the song ‘Everything At Once’ does some justice to the term “title track” by sticking out in the memory bank.
‘3 Miles High’ is a sombre song that wouldn’t feel misplaced if it were on the multi-million selling Travis record ‘The Man Who’. In fact, it would be a hit single were it thrown out alongside ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ and ‘Turn’ back at the turn of the century. The soaring jingles persist on ‘All Of The Places’ – this is music that was made for sunbathing in Hyde Park. Whilst that may sound like a backhanded compliment, it is meant in the most sincere way. There are some songs out there that you can’t wait to listen to when you just want to set a relaxing mood and appreciate your surroundings. It’s not boring, it’s easy listening.
As the album gets closer to its end, ‘Idlewild’ has the band enlisting the help of Josephine Oniyama, who fits the song like a glove. Lending her soulful tones to Travis challenges Fran Healy to match her, which he duly does. To top it all off, ‘Strangers On A Train’ is the only song on ‘Everything At Once’ that exceeds the four minute mark, and it uses every second of it well. Slowly led in by a piano, it grows towards the end into a beautiful melodic wonder that could remind Chris Martin of the kind of stellar songs he used to perform with Coldplay.
The content of ‘Everything At Once’, much like the artwork, is bright and colourful. It wouldn’t be a Travis record though if it wasn’t tinted with some degree of emotional turmoil, and this album did have its moments. For the most part though, this is a harmless record which won’t turn many heads, but will mostly do plenty for the older generation of Travis fans who will be happy with the familiarity. For a band that once headlined Glastonbury Festival after only releasing two albums, it’s sad to see their popularity decline, but it’s wonderful to see that they haven’t faded into obscurity. This album even charted at number five in the UK album charts, showing that there is still life in the old dog yet. It may not be the album that catapults Travis back to stardom and brings back Britpop, but it’s a solid effort that could sit comfortably in any record collection.
‘Everything At Once’ is out now via Red Telephone Box.
This Travis article was written by Sam Pickering, a GIGsoup contributor