Review: Travis – Where You Stand
Published on August 27th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Travis had something of a legacy to maintain on their seventh album Where You Stand – one of being, you know, not that bad really. Some decent tunes. Not much to dislike.
Well, they’ve managed it, if only just. Opening track “Mother” provides a firm indication of what largely is to follow, being as it is genuinely heartfelt and as such kind of sweet, but a little overproduced and overly glossy with it.
Lead-in single “Moving” = latter-day U2 with a human vulnerability and/or Snow Patrol with harmonies. Rather back-handed compliments these may be, but it’s not without its charm.
There’s no doubting the sincerity of it all – and this in itself is, sadly, quite refreshing – but it ultimately boils down to the kind of typical ‘TV soap’ facsimile of emotion that you might as well dump in a pile with all the others.
It’s got a nice guitar motif fluttering through it, but this is thoroughly negated by what it is that it’s fluttering through: that ubiquitous chord progression, the one that has somehow come to be associated by the masses with ‘heartbreak’, the one that makes Rocksucker feel queasy.
You know, a late-night drive, rain-spattered windows, unrequited/unfulfilled love, that sort of thing. Like we said, just put it with Ronan Keating and the others.
So activated is Rocksucker’s cynicism by now that when Fran Healy sings on the title track “I will be right by you where you stand”, our inner monologue merely runs along the lines of “cool story, bro”. Probably not the intended effect.
And yet there are good bits: the lightly dissonant driving guitar and tinkly keys of “Another Guy”, for example, and the startlingly elegant and impassioned closing piano ballad “The Big Screen”, perhaps the closest Healy has come to sounding like Thom Yorke.
Before this, “New Shoes” lives up to its title by – *gulp* – actually sounding quite un-Travis-like, being as it is a dark sort of skank with a satisfyingly crunchy beat. Why didn’t they do more like this?
Where You Stand is out now on Red Telephone Box.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!