100 for 2000 – #79. Travis – The Boy With No Name

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.

2007 – #9. Travis – The Boy With No Name
(Independiente)

8 years on from the Man Who, the album that made them household names (and the album I just voted as the best British album of the last 30 years for the Brits), Travis did a conscious turn back of the clock. After the dark and moody 12 Memories, they teamed up with Nigel Godrich again, used their old logo, and made a proper Travis album.

Except it kind of wasn’t. If anything, it’s a sequel to that pair of albums they made years earlier (The Man Who, The Invisible Band). That existential angst has matured, as the band now had kids and wives themselves. Whereas they have at times traded in anger, sadness and quiet frustration, here on The Boy With No Name, there is a bit more intelligence, a resigned sigh, and fitting in with the world.

It’s a small difference, but a big one for a fan. As the Man Who and the Invisible Band were great albums for a confused, sensitive young man in his late teens/early 20s, so does this album sound great for that same guy in his late 20s.

(I guess, in way, you can also say the fire has gone out a little)

The two big singles really surround this point quite nicely. Closer is one of Fran Healy‘s very best moments. Neil Finn should be jealous. A beautiful, mature, it’s-just-you-and-me-and-I-love-you song of great intimacy yet wide appeal. It’s adult contemporary – not something you’d expect from a band once touted as the new Radiohead (I hate Radiohead, in case you don’t know). The other single, Selfish Jean, is a boppy pop rocker with a beat knicked from You Can’t Hurry Love. But it’s a farewell to a woman who doesn’t know what she wants, and it’s time to put those childish things away.

The songwriting is really, really top notch. This album got many luke warm reviews, but some really out of the world reviews as well. Those who gave it time really heard the songwriting. It’s Healy doing what he does best. Battleships, My Eyes (a song for his son), the utterly unbelievable 3 Times And You Lose… all great. Just, not pop radio material. But that great intimacy that they are so great at, it’s all here. More than most bands, these guys sound like they are singing just for you.

So this is another record I carried around with me a lot. And I know there were cooler records that came out in 2007, but truth is, I kept coming back to this one. The last track in particular, New Amsterdam, was a headphone favourite. It’s some Healy only, a pretty folk melody and some non sequitur stuff about Paris, New York and travel. In my mind, seeing the world, it was all mumbled up just the same. Somehow, all those random images now have this random song as a soundtrack.

I guess this album didn’t do very well for the band, and they have now taken their career back into their own hands. They got their records back. They started their own label. Healy‘s got a solo record due. I’ve liked every album to some degree, but this like Woody Allen coming back and doing one more screwball comedy with Diane Keaton. This could be the last time Travis sound so classic. And from their older place, it sounds like a goodbye.

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