Travis: 12 Memories

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Travis

Album: 12 Memories
Label: Epic/Independiente

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When Radiohead turned difficult in the late '90s, its old sound went up for grabs, and more than a few bands did the grabbing. Among the most promising was Travis, whose 1999 sophomore album The Man Who captured the soaring melodies of The Bends-era Radiohead while filtering out the thorny personality of Thom Yorke. The Man Who lost some of Radiohead's edge, but the songs couldn't have been much more infectious. Apparently, as it is with Highlanders, so it is with Bends-inspired bands: There can only be one. (Or at least one making the source material work without sounding like a slavish imitator.) As Coldplay ascended, Travis declined. In 2001, the aptly named The Invisible Band came and went without leaving much of an impression, and now, the group has returned with 12 Memories. That title is an overstatement, but the album does offer a few more memorable tracks than its predecessor. Lead singer and songwriter Fran Healy recalls his gift for memorable hooks on "Quicksand" and "Mid-Life Krysis," for instance, and "Peace The Fuck Out" finds a novel use for a soccer chant. It also finds room for an awakening political conscience that, however commendable, makes for some embarrassing moments. Lilting melody and all, there's no getting around lines like "You don't need an invitation / to drop in upon a nation" (from "The Beautiful Occupation"). Still, an improvement's an improvement, and if Healy and his band are truly just happy to hang around (as claimed in the song "Happy To Hang Around"), there's probably room for them, painful earnestness and all. Britain may not need two second-generation Radiohead devotees, but maybe it does need its own Live.

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