Travis – Everything At Once
Fran Healy and co return with their eighth studio album
Where does a band go once the fame, if not fortune, has subsided? Travis, the perennial nice guys of Scottish rock – and there’s some competition for that accolade – embraced their time at the top around the turn of the millennium but, following drummer Neil Primrose’s near death experience in 2002, the momentum slowed and Travis now cater to the converted.
Besides, there are any number of what Alan McGee disparagingly described as ‘bedwetter’ bands filling arenas these days. The mild middle ground may be crowded but Travis aren’t going to get into any pissing competition. According to frontman Fran Healy, the friendship dynamic between the four members is what drives the band – that and his newfound songwriting practise.
Healy has been flirting with the old 9-to-5 – that’s 9pm to 5am, as the songs on Travis’ eighth album were composed late at night in his music room in Berlin’s Hansa Studios – and with classic pop economy. Travis are not known for their indulgence anyway, but most songs on Everything At Once clock in at around the three-minute mark and only closing number ‘Strangers on a Train’ stretches over four minutes – it’s practically prog rock compared with the absent-mindedly catchy likes of ‘Magnificent Time’, with its chugging arrangement, bright keyboards, optimistic sentiments (‘I packed up my troubles in a different room’) and a tasteful terrace-style chorus for lads to dance badly to.
The slightly off-kilter shuffle which opens the title track suggested possible new Travis territory when it debuted at the end of last year but the rest of the song is brawny pop/rock of the kind the band habitually alternate with moodier, moochier pieces, characterised by gentle melancholy jangle and Healy’s hangdog vocal tone to create an ache you can almost take consolation in.
Out Fri 29 April on Red Telephone Box.