Travis's The Invisible Band a solid
3 polar bears
members of Travis became the kings of Brit-pop with their mega-hit 1999
sophomore album The Man Who. To summarize the last five years in the genre,
Oasis hit their zenith ages ago, the Verve broke up, and Radiohead and
Blur have experimented with their sound so much that they shouldn't even
be categorized in the genre anymore. This leaves Travis and newcomer band
Coldplay at the forefront of the Britpop scene--two remarkably similar
groups who sing virtually always about longing and love, as opposed to
Oasis, Blur and Radiohead's frequent topics of drugs, British society,
The Invisible Band is Travis's sequel to The Man Who. The
band and producer Nigel Godrich (the man who produced Radiohead's OK Computer
and subsequent works) recognize "if ain't broke, don't fix it."
The Invisible Band departs little from its predecessor--the unique formula
by which Travis rode to the top in 1999 is still present on their follow-up
effort. The ever-so-present acoustic guitar blends well with the catchy
bass riffs, creating a pure, easy-on-the-ears sound, while Fran Healy's
Scottish voice overflows with innocence on almost every track. Travis's
music, focusing on beauty rather than power, offers a refreshing alternative
to today's testosterone-driven rock scene.
The album's opening track and first single, "Sing,"
is a brilliantly crafted pop song that will surely be stuck in one's head
after only the first listen. The second single to be released, "Side,"
is already a hit in Britain and is arguably the album's highlight.
The songs that stick above mid-tempo, like "Sing,"
"Side," and "Follow the Light" are generally more
complex than mellow songs like "Dear Diary" and "Last Train,"
which seem to be lacking something. But "Pipe Dreams" and "Safe"
are slower songs that are still quite good.
A song called "The Humpty Dumpty Love Song" is
somewhat difficult to take seriously, yet Travis makes it the string-heavy
emotional climax of their album. But Travis has a strange sense of humor.
One of the coolest moments on The Man Who is the psychotic bonus track,
"The Blue Flashing Light," that came out of left field after
an album of ballads.
The Man Who, already considered a classic album, is easily superior to its follow-up. On The Invisible Band, Travis keeps the vibe right, the hooks strong, and the songs nice, but it ends up being little boring and very homogenous. Fran Healy is far more successful in crafting brilliant melodies than in writing brilliant lyrics (unless you consider songs about flowers and singing wives particularly profound). On the bright side, this makes The Invisible Band ideal studying music.