The Man Who is over-loaded with ballads. Torch songs, slow blues, Gauloises-sucking chansons, requiems, and every shade of indigo. Which is all right if you’re Billie Holiday or Frank Sinatra. But if you’re a bunch of rock blokes from Glasgow, the result isn’t necessarily tremendous. But Travis realizes their weakness, so this new record is ultimately a battle to find a voice that matters. Hence the turbulence on ‘Slide Show’, as Fran tries to bust open the cliches, to find popular success as well as exercising his art.
And you’ll hear the same instinct on ‘Writing To Reach You’, as he muses over a familiar shuffle beat, “the radio keeps playing all the usual/And what’s a wonderwall anyway?” Recent single ‘Driftwood’ isn’t bad. ‘As You Are’ trembles like John Lennon on The Beatles’ ‘Across The Universe’. There’s another homage on ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’, which is akin to Jeff Buckley, a bit luminous and special. But you can’t sing high and weird nowadays without getting compared to Thom Yorke.
And Travis has copped plenty of that attention in the past, so they really should have installed their Radiohead detectors at an early stage of recording. That might have rltered out ‘The Fear’ and ‘The Luv’, which are terribly derivative.