100 for 2000 – #11. Travis – The Invisible Band

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2001 – #1. Travis – The Invisible Band
(Independiente)

Back in 2001, I was writing a weekly column called ‘Strum’ for a Sydney magazine called Revolver. Because of this, I know I did an end of year bets of list, and the album that was number one was the Invisible Band by Travis.

Something draws me to the Scottish. All that staying inside, I guess it produces very insular, thoughtful bands. For Travis, after the success of The Man Who, they made their best, most confident and thoughtful album. They abandoned the Oasis type posing of their first album, the Radiohead lite flourishes of the second, and made a Travis album.

It’s an album of love. Of love gone right. Years of struggling had paid off, and singer/songwriter Fran Healy found himself in love. It is those love songs that make up the heart of the album. The massive hit, Sing, was a bit of joyous nonsense. But it’s Flowers In the Window that revels in the end of lonely nights, and pitter patter of tiny feet in the distance. The last track, The Humpty Dumpty Love Song, is one of the best things they have ever done. Haunting and longing…it offers a way out of the darkness presented on the Man Who.

Sounding positive and happy without sounding corny is one of the hardest things in the world. But coming out of all that ‘millennial tension’, The Invisible Band was a perfect antidote. Listening to this album, you’d believe the band has never heard Radiohead and would never care too (although they share a producer).

I listened to this album a lot. It made me feel better and it still does. It’s a Sunday morning album. The repeating chorus of Safe comes to mind. I feel safe around this record, like the world is going to be alright. And I’m going to be alright. I guess it’s not cool to sing about that kind of stuff.

Musical delights are abound if you give it a try. The chiming guitar intro the Follow the Light – I’m surprised more people haven’t ripped that off. Dear Diary, as one review at the time called it, the best White Album song of the year.

But for my money, my favourite song is the Cage. A song about a boy seeing how he’s not the right guy for a girl, and breaking up with her. I had been giving a life to a girl who I felt never really liked it. When that all ended, I had this song…not to wallow in, but to help me make sense of what happened. That’s the wonderful thing about a good song.

I still buy Travis albums. The Boy With No Name is just as good as anything they’ve ever done. I know their star has passed, but it’s something about the Scottish. They’ve got me hooked.

(Quick aside – I pad through the nose for this record on vinyl. I had decided that, at the very least, I would get my top ten albums of every year on vinyl, if there was a print. They only made the Invisible Band in the UK – the import and exchange rate were ridiculous. Now I see this for less that £5 on vinyl everywhere.)

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