Record Review

Phases and Stages


The Invisible Band (Epic)

Dear Travis, it pains me to write this letter, truly. I'm not breaking up with you, but we've definitely got some issues to work through. Maybe it's me. Maybe I expected too much. Your American breakthrough, The Man Who, bore all the characteristics of what makes an album magic: meaty songs, juicy emotional engagement, and a sense of mystery. How I used to stare at the captionless photos in those liner notes, longing to know who was who, why the lot of you looked so sad, wondering if the gloomy Scotland skies had made you forever maudlin. I liked the thought of that. But now, you've presented me with The Invisible Band, and frankly, I don't know what to say. Sure, the melodies are pretty (Fran Healy, your falsetto's all I've got now that Jeff Buckley's gone), and despite the fact that your lyrics often smack of collegiate philosophy ("We all live under the same sky, we all will live, we all will die"), this is all pleasant-enough music. Unfortunately, the gut-punch of The Man Who just isn't there. In fact, this album is so lightweight and airy, it often consigns itself to the background, rather than forcing doe-eyed worshippers to pay them attention. What happened, Travis? Get sad again, please. For our sake. Or at the very least, don't give me cotton candy when you've promised me Godiva chocolate.

(Travis plays Stubb's Wednesday, Oct. 17.)

** .5

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