Travis The Men Who - Reviews




While other bands were brashly proclaiming themselves the dog's plums, Travis came on the scene a couple of years ago with less brazen ambitions, but, in most cases (sorry, Embrace) much better tunes. Their debut Good Feeling saw the band tagged as everything from arch pop classicists (All I Wanna Do Is Rock) to naive Bay City Roller devitees (Happy). Now, with celebrated producers Mike Hedges and Nigel Godrich taking turns at the helm, the Scottish band's last pre-millenium offering leans much more towards balladry.

The Man Who...- a title derived from Oliver Sack's book on schizophrenia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat - kicks off with Writing To Reach You, which slyly doffs a cap in the direction of Oasis and carries a high tingle factor thanks to a yearning melody and Andy Dunlop's cascading guitar riff. Driftwood's contagious strumming continues in a similar vein, while the plaintive As You Are allows us to revel in a little unashamed melancholia while Dunlop's guitar gently weeps and moans in the background.

As good as Fran Healy's singing is, sometimes his syrupy songwriting tendencies do go a bit over the top - the prosaic The Last Laugh Of The Laughter reminds you why you're praying Simon and Garfunkel never reform. But, most of the time, he pitches it right. Why Does It Always Rain On Me the paranoid musical comedown to The Faces Itchycoo Park, and She's So Strange lollops along nicely in a Hunky Dory-era style.

Apart from the secret track in the end, a tale of teenage woe with portentous John Barry-style chord changes, The Man Who... is the perfect accompaniment to rainy summer afternoons. Or just when it's raining in your heart.

Patrick Jennings