Ode To J.Smith

Written by: PP on 12/12/2008 15:58:09

Scottish pop rockers Travis have never quite achieved similar success as with their emotionally charged hit single "Why Does It Always Rain On Me" back in 1999 (who hasn't sung along to the lines of that song on a cold, rainy Autumn night?). They aren't a band you'll hear too often on the Danish radio waves, nor a band you'll notice capturing the #1 spot on the charts, and this is simply because Travis has never been a hit-oriented band. All their releases to date have been solid pop rock without too many obvious 'hits' (though there has been an album or two which didn't receive critical acclaim), and basically the band has always trusted a style of pop rock that isn't overly commercialized or formulaic, but instead, emotionally written from the heart and souls of the band.

"Ode To J.Smith" is the band's sixth studio album, and the first one to feature an electric guitar since their 1997 debut "Good Feeling". This doesn't introduce anything radical though, as the occasional guitar leads merely supplement the band's trademark pop rock sound in a way that makes a Travis fan wonder if it wasn't also used on their five previous albums as well. Now I'll admit gladly that I don't know the Travis discography that well, but I know a bunch of songs and listening to "Ode To J.Smith" made me feel that way.

Songwise, the band keeps writing their emotional, somewhat dreamy pop rock soundscapes well. "Song To Self", "Something Anything" "Friends" and especially "Last Words" are the highlights, where the latter's chorus sounds noticeably similar to something a band like Keane could write, not that it matters here because you'll be singing along to the song in no time. If Travis has ever written another song with nearly as much hit potential as the rain song, this might just be it.

In the end, I don't see why anyone would dislike "Ode To J.Smith". It might not be the most striking record of the year, but it's consistent and enjoyable to the point that it'll put you in a relaxed mood no matter what you're going through in your current stage of this thing called life. Travis' expression is so honest that no "sell-out" cries have ever been necessary, and that still applies today. So if you're more into the mainstream music scene than the extreme metal stuff EW keeps going on about, at least stay with Travis instead of going with something like The Jonas Brothers.


Download: Last Words, Friends, Something Anything
For the fans of: Oasis, Blur, Ash
Listen: Myspace

Release date 29.09.2008
Red Telephone Box/Fontana Records

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