Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2001 third album The Invisible Band by group Travis, but in truth, should they be seen and not heard? Read on..
This 12 track album opens with lead single Sing, which after a strange synth sound, introduces a wave of strumming guitars and banjo. Fran Healy’s vocals sit perfectly alongside this gentle mid-tempo melodious song, which flows effortlessly through the verses and chorus. I cannot fault this song whatsoever, only in that it only reached #3 in the UK charts.
This is followed by a wonderfully drifting, dreamy song Dear Diary, which at times reminds me a little musically and vocal style of Radiohead’s hit No Surprises. Fran’s vocals here are a bit darker, and this fits with the slightly eerie sounding guitars and wind howling sounds that make up the layers of this song – it’s almost a lullaby.
Next up is second single Side which is far more up-beat than the two songs we’ve heard before. There’s some lovely wandering rich bass here, sunken beneath lots of strumming guitars. The chorus isn’t quite catchy enough though, which may have contributed to it being a moderate hit – reaching #14 in the UK singles chart.
Pipe Dreams follows this, and this song sounds almost folky. The song is light, guitar laden, and Fran’s vocals make light work of the lyrics, with opportunities to show off his higher vocal range. This is just a nice song.
Third and final single Flowers In The Window bursts in after a few bass drum taps. Piano dances here alongside guitar, banjo, and bass. This song almost feels like it was brought through from about 1971, or at the very least from Ocean Colour Scene. This song doesn’t have the same appeal as Sing, and became another moderate hit – reaching #18 in the UK singles chart.
Gentle strings strum, as a space-y synth buzzes in the background of The Cage. Fran sings over the top as more guitars arrive, followed by tinkling piano and bass. Again, this is another nice gentle song.
This is followed by Safe, which gives us a nice plodding melodious song. Guitars, piano, bass and a gentle beat weave their way through this song. Again i’m reminded of Ocean Colour Scene, or possible even echoes of The Beatles.
Follow The Light is up next and this starts brightly with some a catchy guitar section, soon followed by a thumping bass drum and bass. Fran’s vocals are more delicate and higher here, and this helps to keep this song sitting above some of the more melancholy songs on this album. Perhaps this should have been the third single instead of Flowers In The Window?
Next is Last Train, which opens with strumming guitars and tinkling bells. This is soon followed by some wonderfully slinky bass and jazz-ish gentle drums. It’s almost as menacing at the start as a Bond Theme, or even something by Portishead. This song is moody, and Fran does a great turn with near-sultry vocals. Unlike catching the last train, this song isn’t dirty, over-filled, over-heated, and full of drunken slurring. Instead, it’s wonderful brooding sound.
Afterglow follows, instantly making me feel like Coldplay have slipped into the studio with some of their Parachutes-era guitars. Thankfully, Fran’s vocals soon take control, as he softly sings over the top of the rising guitar riffs, piano and gentle beats. However, as the end gets in sight, i’m convinced that the song speeds up as it heads to a space-y vocal section.
The penultimate song, Indefinitely, doesn’t go on indefinitely. It starts off with a simple guitar strummed sequence with Fran singing over the top. The song gently wanders along, ending with the fearsome sound of an alarm clock beeping.
Along a similar sound, the album closes with The Humpty Dumpty Love Song, opening with the lyrics from the nursery rhyme before merging into their own song. Fran sings over the strumming guitars and affected beats, before strings join him. The song builds up perfectly for the chorus, dropping back for the verse.
Where are Travis now?
Travis continued to find great success with and after this album, although their singles chart success declined over the next six years.
Their most recently charting single was My Eyes in 2007, which stalled at #60. Their most recent single is Everything At Once – a much heavier sound than that on this album. Its (pretty weird) video was released to YouTube in November 2015.
POP RESCUE RATING
Over all, in the era of Coldplay, and post-Ocean Colour Scene, this Travis album fits in well. Sing stands out a mile here, with the rest of the songs being really nice, but not quite as catchy. Follow The Light and Last Train would have made for interesting singles, but ultimately the band didn’t suffer commercially from this album – helping them to maintain and build on their success.
If you enjoyed Coldplay’s Parachutes, and enjoy some of the lighter Radiohead songs, then you’ll like this album too.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2001 UK CHART PEAK: #1
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from an Oxfam store.