Sunday, May 08, 2016

Everything at Once - a slideshow of pleasant rock ditties

album review

Travis’ new album may not be very experimental but offers some delightful, easy listening

Album:Everything at Once
Band: Travis

The release of their sophomore album, The Man Who (1999), brought Travis international recognition in the late ’90s, turning them into one of Britain’s most well-known post-Britpop outfits. But even though their popularity began to taper off in the early ’00s, the Scottish foursome – who are often attributed with paving the way for bands like Coldplay, Keane, and Snow Patrol – have continued to make touching, heart-warming music – charming their loyal fan base with their beautiful melodies and catchy hooks. Now, nearly one and a half decades, since a rainy Glastonbury day turned them into the talk of the town, the group has released their eighth album, Everything at Once, another set of gentle rock ditties that, just like its predecessors, may not be very experimental, but remains consistently pleasant.

Written primarily by the band members and produced by Michael Ilbert, the album comes three years after their previous release Where You Stand (2013). For the most part, Travis doesn’t wander too far from the familiar path of soft rock crooning. The synths embedded in the buoyant first single ‘Everything at Once’ might suggest that the group could head in a different direction and expand their palette on the new record, but – either thankfully or disappointingly, depending on your vantage point – that doesn’t happen.

The album primarily relies on the classic Travis sound, built on friendly guitars, light drums, and soaring choruses, delivered through Fran Healy’s instantly recognizable vocals. Songs like the  tender ‘All of the Places’ and ‘3 Miles High’, the mellow ‘Idlewild’ (featuring English singer Josephine Oniyama), and the beautiful album closer ‘Strangers on a Train’ showcase the band’s skill at making their craft seem so effortless.

The uplifting ‘Magnificent Time’, made with a little help from Keane’s Tim Rice Oxley, encourages listeners to “cease the day”, and even though its earnest sweetness may be too cheesy for some listeners, it is nonetheless hard to resist. And the standout ‘Animals’, built on the idea that despite everything we’re still animals, is an easy reminder of why the world fell in love with Travis in the first place.

The band’s sonic canvas may not be very expansive, but there is still variety in the ten songs they deliver on Everything at Once. Travis sounds confident on this record, at ease with their place in the world of music and not eager to tinker with their style. The album will appeal to the listeners who have enjoyed the group’s output over the last decade, although it is not likely to attract attention beyond their established audience; those hoping for an evolution in style won’t be impressed with this effort. Also, the songs are generally very short; most clock in under 3 minutes, and some leave you wishing they were a bit longer.

Travis isn’t breaking new ground or pushing boundaries with Everything at Once, but their predictability doesn’t make their songs any less enjoyable. Yes, they haven’t tried anything particularly different on this record, but sometimes Travis’ gentle touch is just what their fans need.

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 8th May, 2016*

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