Travis Ode To J. Smith

Travis Ode To J. Smith
After spending the last couple of records nestled in a quiet corner, creating some lovely melancholy tunes, Travis have done something rather unexpected for album number six. The songs move along with more urgency than before, recalling their 1997 debut, in that it finds the band rocking out, albeit in a Travis kind of way. The album is a concept record of sorts about nameless characters and was recorded in just two weeks, giving it a rougher around the edges feel than anything they've done in quite a while. This new approach pays off, with the band sounding revitalised and fresh, and not above throwing in a few of their more typical anthems to keep fans happy. The surprise offered by Ode To J. Smith is enough to prevent Travis from seeming stale, a common complaint of late, but whether it suggests a new direction for the band or not is less obvious. Only time will tell. (Red Telephone Box/Fontana North)