Album Review: Travis – Where You Stand
It’s been a fair few years since we heard much sound coming from the Travis camp. The bands last studio record, Ode to J Smith, failed to reach the same heights as earlier efforts when it was released back in 2008 and may have been the reason for the Scottish quartet deciding to take some time out from recording together and venture into new territory. Lead singer, Fran Healy, found himself back in the studio during the outfits 5 year hiatus, recording for fans a rather impressive solo debut, Wreckorder, an effort that won both fan and critical acclaim and churned out a few nice wee hits for the folkster.
Having recently reunited, momentum and anticipation appears to be in overdrive following the bands comeback single, Where You Stand, probably the most radio friendly Travis hit to have made its way out of the outfit in at least the last decade. The track is the lead single taken from the collectives brand new and seventh studio album of the same name and although I can hardly claim super fandom for Travis (there were a few singles dotted throughout their time together that got my foot tapping and I was quite fond of Fran’s solo project), I have to admit – this new record may have just transformed me into a fully-fledged Travis aficionado.
With an opening that sounds quite similar to The Temper Trap, opening ode Mother is the first track we are offered on Where You Stand. With Fran at the producer’s seat for the number it doesn’t take long for this sweet, acoustic ballad to transform into an engaging anthem. The tracks uplifting melody carries with it a strong 70’s instrumental flavoring and the band’s vocal and harmony filling really allows this number to soar.
Moving was selected as single number two for Where You Stand and appropriately so as this one has the bands distinctive songwriting charisma splashed all over its infectious, funky rhythm. The tracks rich, mid-tempo chorus further compliments the hit while the whistle seasoned Remember provides the track-listing with one of its more stripped back inclusions – poetic and heartfelt and a number that has numerous goose bump inducing moments within its instrumentally minimalistic structure.
A bittersweetness is soaked through Another Guy which tells of a man who has discovered his partner is cheating on him. “Holding hands, kissing eye to eye, yeah I saw you with another guy” Fran declares over a basic bass-heavy melody while the verses and melancholic closing of the track provide a strength to the number as the front man announces, “you can say what you want but it won’t change a thing”.
Adopting a brief drum’n’bass quality for New Shoes, the sound of the record takes a slight change of direction but into complimentary and much more mature waters. While the contrasting instrumentation of the track provides the number with its murky backdrop, it is a snappy and almost slapstick number thrown into the record and takes us away from the expected for just the right amount of time to keep us fully engaged.
Where You Stand is a wonderfully crafted, witty, honest and musically delicious record with a refreshing nod to the bands early sound. Saying this however, the band still offers us something with the new record that is much more mature and even dark in parts than previous Travis offerings.
Where You Stand is by far one of the best Travis records the band has produced who have clearly gained from the 5 year break they have had in the lead up to this new collection and as such they sound revitalized as a unit and return with a truly incredible new array of hits on their hands.