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Travis | Invisible Band | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop


The Invisible Band (Epic)
by Tim Den

When is a good thing too much? When a band known for their niceness, humble demeanor, and bare-bones pop/folk songs decide to trade in the one characteristic that had been keeping them from falling into cheese territory - melancholy - for more niceness, humbleness, and all that crap. Travis, the world's favorite working class-yet-gentle Scotsmen, have upped the saccharine and downed the shoegazing on their third record, The Invisible Band, much to their diehard fans' dismay. Previously, listeners could balance out the quartet's "peace/love/happiness" jargon with their moody music, but with this new record... it's all sunshine and birdies and "we're in this together," overloaded with earnestness that would make a motivational speaker cringe. It works sometimes, like on "Side," "Pipe Dreams," and "The Cage" (the record's most brooding moment), when strong refrains and swayin' beats keep the tunes alive. But for the most part, wishy-washy arrangements and a desperate need to readdress their own niceness and loveliness smother the songs. "Flowers in the Window," while a nice, jangly affair, is about as sticky sweet sentimental as they come. "Safe," a song that guitarist/vocalist Fran Healy wrote when he was 17, is a repetitive, elementary composition that never should've left the basement practice space. "Last Train," "Afterglow," and "Indefinitely" are all meandering, go-nowhere messes, and don't even get me started on "The Humpty Dumpty Love Song." The title alone should tell you how hoaky the lyrics are.

What a shame. After the introspective, lonely-yet-comforting genius of The Man Who, I expected nothing short of a cathartic follow-up. Instead, I got The Invisible Band which, although nice for a few decent numbers, will probably sit on the shelves ignored.


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