Record Reviews

Phases and Stages


12 Memories (Epic) If it seems like forever since Fran Healey and his mopey band of Scots released an album, that's because in a way it has: Since 2001's The Man Who, the world has lost the twin towers, boy bands, and seen the re-emergence of NYC guitar rock and Julian Casablancas' waistline. Once voted the band most likely to soothe your broken heart, Travis has added some emotional weight and musical punch to its stock-in-trade, which remains surreptitious melodies that nestle in your thoughts and reappear as eminently hummable snatches of song. Travis has always been something of a post-Brit pop anomaly, neither as far-ranging as Blur nor as rocking as the Gallagher gang, their cover of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" notwithstanding. The group's brilliance lies in their layered, nuanced songs that seem to exist independent of any popular musical movement -- rock & roll structures overlayed with a folky veneer of acoustical charms. 12 Memories' highlights -- the biting, anti-abuse "Re-Offender" (echoing The Man Who's "Flashing Blue Light") and the overtly political "Peace the Fuck Out," with its football chant coda -- feel simultaneously fresh and familiar. It's a sweetly winning combination that's as comfortable as a friendly face. Sometimes that's all you really need.


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