Where You Stand

Written by: JWM on 13/09/2013 11:08:10

I think out of all the British rock bands there are some that both need and don't need an introduction. Lets be honest, Travis are a big rock band, they're big because of their classic singles from their peak period between 1999 and 2004 and they're a landmark influence on the post-britpop movement. But at the same time they're not huge, it's been quite a while (12 years) since they had a number one record in the charts (but to their credit, they've always come pretty damn close).

10 years ago, when "12 Memories" was released they went about as dark as any Britpop could go. Songs about current wars, domestic abuse and drummer Neil Primrose's serious back injury. And although "12 Memories" themes have departed, the darkest behind their eyes has never left. "Where You Stand" is a relationship album, rooted in break ups, cheating and even just wanting your partner to open up to you. You've probably sat their unmoved as relationships is pretty much the key stone of every alternative/punk band debut album. But when you're musicians in your forties, to write an album like this is less corny as your life experience fuels your musical and lyrical inspiration.

Starting with "Mother", a beautiful, acoustic- and synthesiser driven affair, we are introduced to the broken soul of singer Fran Healy. There is a great progression in the track as more and more of the instrumental arrangement is introduced until it becomes a chilled out wall of sound, the drums and piano kicking in with soft gang vocals from the other band members and then establishing the full serenity of everything we love about post-britpop.

You are then confronted with the The Cure-laced youthful melancholia of "Another Guy". "But it won't change a thing. Won't change a thing. Cause I saw you with another guy". Simple but effective lyricism, perhaps on paper they look too simple but their charm is intheir delivery, Healy's drab-but-actually-can-sing approach can make any lyrics feel and sound sincere. There are moments of variety in the album however, in for instance the Gorillaz like trip-hop of "New Shoes" with its psychedelic guitar and repetitive beat to the piano-led, tragic farewell of album closer "The Big Screen".

It's difficult to think of a justified final verdict. The song writing is great and memorable and the production is clear. It just feels safe, and at times boring. It's safe because it doesn't deviate from anything else that Travis has written, only it lacks the brilliant pop songs of their early 2000s radio peak. And it's boring because it lacks any moments where it just jumps out at you. In ten years music has moved on, and that has never meant Travis has too, but if you're going to keep to your old style it's best to give it a serious "wow" factor.


Download: Moving; Reminder; Another Guy; New Shoes
For The Fans Of: Keane, Athlete, R.E.M.

Release Date 19.08.2013
Red Telephone Box

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