All I Want To Do Is Ballad

‘Writing To Reach You’, ‘Selfish Jean’, ‘Closer‘, ‘More Than Us’, ‘Driftwood’, ‘Flowers In The Window’, ‘Re-Offender’ and ‘Something Anything’. All of these are wonderful songs by Travis. I know, as a ‘serious music fan’, I’m not supposed to rate Travis but they’re great. Let’s get the mudslinging out the way first. ’12 Memories’ is quite poor and its effect on their sales may never be reversed. However, it’s pretty much their sole aberration.

I’ve got ‘The Man Who’ on as I type this and it sounds marvellous. The sound is rich and warm and the songs are, at worst, gently charming and, at best, genuinely affecting. Balls to the fact that plenty of bands have tried to do this since, (go on Lightbody, fuck off) it doesn’t make these songs any less great. The album was a sneaky success when it came out, gradually gathering momentum until it was virtually compulsory to buy it in order to be allowed to purchase bread and milk for your hungry family. And, like so many others, ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?‘, got on my nerves after the billionth play during Glastonbury footage, but I’m even rehabilitated towards that song now.

My return to Travis’ bosom came about as a result of hearing their utterly splendid new single, ‘Something Anything’ for a second time. When I first heard it, I wasn’t convinced it. It sounded a little bland and, well, chuggy. The second listen enabled me to hear the wailing backing vocal in the chorus. Now, regular readers will know that the bit in Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’ when Ed comes in, wailing as a counterpoint to Thom‘s main vocal is one of my absolute favourite musical moments. This isn’t quite up to it, but it is similarly powerful, but in a different way. I don’t know why, but it gives the song more heart. There’s a real sense that somebody’s giving everything to that song and suddenly the chorus comes alive.

Furthermore, it’s short and sounds tremendous at unacceptable volume levels. Shit cover, mind. Anyway, the new single led me back to the last one, ‘J Smith’ which is just bizarre, flicking between shuddering rock and a dramatic choir on the edge. From there, I ended up digging out their last album, ‘The Boy With No Name’. The lead single from this, ‘Closer‘, is the sort of track that is as inextricably linked to ‘the Travis sound’ as ‘Imitation Of Life’ is to ‘the R.E.M. sound’, but that doesn’t make it bad. The list I started this post with demonstrates that a number of their best songs come from their most recent albums, and how many long-lasting bands can you say that about?

The ‘Singles’ album went on next. Why do I even own it, when I have the album? Not sure, it must have been cheap. But it’s got a new song! I was amazed by how, when almost every song started, I kept thinking, "Oh good, I like this one." I got the new singles collection by The Coral yesterday and I thought that was pretty impressive, but this, while less musically creative, made me smile more.

Obviously, if they’ve never done anything for you before, then it’s unlikely they ever will, but if they’ve faded away, lost in the middle distance, then give ’em another shot. I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Can’t embed ‘Closer‘, for some reason, but if you go to Travis’ Last.fm page, you can listen to it, and many other tunes, in full.