Since 1999’s hit début album The Man Who, Travis have seemingly kept a pretty low profile. You may be surprised, as I was, to learn that they have released some 6 albums in the intervening 17 years. Their upcoming LP, Everything at Once, is a landmark of a slow and sure evolution in their sound. A product of the post-britpop era, their slow, happy and easy tunes were refreshing and enjoyable in their time. Their début was released at end of the summer school term and became a solid part of almost every indie teenager’s summer soundtrack. That sentiment leaves me with high hopes for Everything at Once, but can they live up to their past reputation?
In truth, though I should have shed my preconceptions before I started, on the first few listens I was a little disappointed. I found the first few tracks a little boring and on the later, more exciting numbers felt that Healy’s voice struggled to reach the same level of power as the surrounding instrumentation. After a few listens however, this LP has grown on me a lot and I find myself singing along to the self same tunes that left me wanting. So it looks like history is to repeat itself, as it’s these kind of tracks that stick with me for the long haul.
The album as a whole, much like previous efforts, is slow, sure and plodding and yet upbeat and happy. This seems to be something of a fingerprint for them as their material was instantly recognisable and familiar, but there’s something new in the ebb and flow of this album’s layers and textures. Their sound has gotten bigger, bolstered by choral vocals and features guest vocals from Norwegian singer, Aurora on Idlewild. To my ear, they also use more effects pedals, such as the bass-line and addition of discreet strings and choral vocals on Paralyzed, which definitely adds a new edge to their sound. Overall the sound on this release reminds me more of Coldplay’s X & Y days, but as Healy’s celtic-edged vocal breaks, it pulls through a level of emotion that the former lack.
My personal favourite track is Animals which opens with strings and light drums leaving the vocals to cut through expertly and building to a soaring and catchy chorus. It’s an upbeat, foot tapping and happy number I could listen to time and time again. I also like how they close the album with soaring number, Strangers on a Train which makes for a solid, dramatic and happy end which will leave you wanting more.
While I’m not sure that Everything at Once is likely to be a big hitter, it’s an excellent LP and definitely one that their fans will enjoy. Unfortunately I think that with some massive acts from the same era cornering the market, it’s unlikely to make big waves beyond their established fans. Let’s hope that one of their singles from this one captures the attention of the general public as Why Does it Always Rain on Me did in 1999 but if not, it’s still a great album for the collection!