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Travis | 12 Memories | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop
12 Memories (Epic)
by Tim Den
In an effort to shed their "puppy dog softies" image, Travis have turned "political" on 12 Memories. Lesson learned? Fill that gap between your front teeth before you get a nose job. Translation: Don't go tackling other problems before you fix the most immediate ones, specifically the steadily dropping quality in songwriting and melodic ideas. I'm all for these guys quitting the whole "gosh darn it, I love you too" approach to sad pop, but not at the cost of outright laughable newbies like "Peace the Fuck Out" (yes, I'm serious). No amount of earnest "we care about the public too, man" is going to make your songs better... or help you write actual endings for 'em (multiple tracks here end abruptly, as if the band functioned on "verse-chorus-verse-chorus... and then I drop the guitar to get a bite of this sandwich here and Andy rubs one out." No joke: No endings).
And without Radiohead guru/producer/engineer Nigel Godrich, even the sound quality of 12 Memories sounds half-assed at the cost of this new focus on "mature" lyrics. The instruments and the vocals are like oil and water repelling each other into opposite spectrums of frequencies and never sounding cohesive. Similarly, without Godrich ironing out the kinks, the songs feels like segments being glued together for a lack of better transition ideas.
Thankfully, if you make it past the first eight songs or so, things settle down a bit on the heart-tugging "Somewhere Else," the lazy sunset of "Love Will Come Through," the haunting "Happy to Hang Around," and the tranquil/delicate "Walking Down the Hill" (not to mention the tearjerking "secret" ballad "Some Sad Song"). But will you be able to make it through the god awful "Paperclips" and "Mid-Life Krysis" (is that a nü metal spelling there, Travis?)? I fear for the weak.
If you took the aforementioned five songs and combined it with the good songs from The Invisible Band, you'd have a brilliant album. Unfortunately, these bright spots are filled out with so much gunk in between 'em that I just might not be able to pipe up next time someone makes fun of Travis.