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Travis | The Boy With No Name | review | alternative | Lollipop
The Boy With No Name (Epic)
by Tim Den
What do people expect from Travis? When they give the public what it wants - namely bittersweet, British, melancholic pop such as The Invisible Band - they're reprimanded for sticking with a formula. But when they try to branch out (12 Memories), they're laughed at for taking themselves too seriously. Even as The Boy With No Name returns the band to their glory of penning effective happy/sad anthems, many are quick to complain. "It's not different' enough." But you guys didn't like different, remember? "It's got no balls." Um, excuse me, but are you looking for the new Slipknot? Then why the fuck are you listening to Travis!? By now, I'd hoped that the idiots of the world knew not to 1) think that Travis can be anything other than Travis and 2) whine like little bitches when Travis actually get the chance to be themselves and produce quality work, but I guess not. For the first time since The Man Who - which is possibly the most flawless tearjerker Britpop has ever produced, hands down - Fuck your Blur, Keane, Coldplay, and Starsailor contenders (even though I'm a fan of all four bands) - the Scottish quartet have actually found their way back to doing what they do best, and you're still not happy!?
I say fuck the naysayers, cuz Travis have returned in a big way. The Boy With No Name is the proper follow-up to The Man Who in every sense: The intimate and warm production values (courtesy of Nigel Godrich and Brian Eno), the gorgeous melodies that sound as familiar as they are surprising, and the perfect balance of introspection and celebration. The first five songs are utterly breathtaking, with all of 'em completely unique from one another and offering everything you love about Britpop. Catchy sing alongs and perfect accentuations from instruments (guitars on "3 Times and You Lose" and "Selfish Jean," strings on "Closer") help to keep the pace constantly refreshing, even as "Eyes Wide Open" eventually stops the parade of quality with a dull attempt at rocking out (but even it has a great chorus). And even though the second half of the record contains a good chunk of fillers - "One Night," "Under the Moonlight," and "New Amsterdam" are particularly noneventful - its highlights more than make up for it. "My Eyes" bounces along with a fantastic piano hook, "Colder" sways in the arms of huge sounding drums, and secret song "Sailing Away"'s crystalline guitar picking (and lilting chorus) is like a sip of mountain spring for the ears. A suggestion to the band: Please let bassist/backup vocalist Douglas Payne write more songs. Not only is his contribution, "Colder," one of the album's best, but his "Ring Out the Bells" on The Invisible Band was by far that record's saving grace. Let the man take the reins more!
If you don't like Travis, you're not going to like The Boy With No Name. If great Britpop songs are not your bag, quit trying to find other reasons to negate its worth. I've said it a million times and I'll say it a million more: You don't listen to The Beatles and complain about the lack of blastbeats. You don't listen to Aphex Twin and bitch about the lack of "rocking guitars." I personally didn't enjoy The Invisible Band and 12 Memories very much, not cuz of cosmetic reasons, but because the songs weren't good. Now that The Boy With No Name has given us A-grade Travis songs, paying attention to anything else is just plain missing the point. Ignorant fools be damned: I'm cranking this baby LOUD.