Album Review, Travis, LA Times: 'The band are on laidback, understated form on this, their tenth album"

Travis are on laidback, understated form with Fran Healy and co helped along the way by Chris Martin and Brandon Flowers, writes Fiona Shepherd

LA Times (3 stars), the tenth album by Travis, is named literally to reflect Fran Healy’s Los Angeles-based life and times over the past decade, though he remains just as partial to a spot of Caledonia dreaming on what he claims is his most personal odyssey since breakthrough album The Man Who.

Recent single Bus is typical understated Travis, infusing a banal situation with that yearning quality which helps raise the bar on Healy’s seemingly simple songs. Speaking of which, another former single, Raze the Bar, imagines the last night of underground Greenwich Village haunt the Black & White Bar as if slumped across it, with sleepy mid-paced verses leading in to a lazy singalong chorus featuring unobtrusive support from Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Killers frontman Brandon Flowers.

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Live It All Again is more a murmur than a song but proceedings perk up on Gaslight which rides in on a sprightly pub piano refrain before landing on an earworm chorus which made it an obvious choice for comeback single.

Susan BearSusan Bear
Susan Bear

Healy is something of a pop appropriator. Alive is a Travis take on I Will Survive with a bit of Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye thrown in, while the beautiful coursing melody of Naked In New York City captures the swooning romance of a Rufus Wainwright or Blue Nile composition.

Pacey folk tune The River musters a Braveheart resolve and I Hope That You Spontaneously Combust is about as vitriolic as Healy gets, even if the sentiment is expressed via a charming amble of a tune. Ironically, LA doesn’t seem to get much of a look-in until the closing title track, an urban reverie with Healy’s measured rapping over the top.

Stephen Pastel & Gavin Thomson present their expanded soundtrack to the Fringe First Award-winning stage adaptation of David Keenan’s novel This Is Memorial Device (4 stars) about a fictional Eighties indie band from Airdrie. Art imitates life as sometime Pastels soundman Thomson builds the indie garage fuzz of We Have Sex from a proto-Pastels demo, complete with wounded yelps in the DIY punk spirit of Suicide.

The lo-fi Lanarkshire fantasia of The Most Beautiful House In Airdrie evokes more recent Pastels compositions with the addition of graceful flute and chiming glockenspiel and, elsewhere, lead actor Paul Higgins and other characters’ voices reminisce on the Memorial Device glory days over gauzy soundscapes, the twinkling march of The Morning of the Executioners and the tapestry of woozy brass and delicate chiming percussion on Footsteps in the Snow.

The KaisersThe Kaisers
The Kaisers

The third solo album from multi-instrumentalist Susan Bear is clinically titled as a wry kick against the homogeneity that comes with creating music for stakeholders. Algorhythmic Mood Music (3 stars) was instead made with love in her home studio set-up and is another bittersweet collection of bedroom pop, making use of lush shoegaze guitar and pitchshifted vocals to create soothing dance reveries such as It’s You and Glass Tunnel and upping the pace on the peppy, even hectic Drift, 8-bit banger Shake (Say Yes) and the propulsive ecstatic scamper of I Don’t Want You To Know Me.

Edinburgh’s exquisite beat stylists The Kaisers return with their first new album in a decade. As ever, time is a relative concept because it is forever 1962 in the mono realm of Kaisersland. Every track on More From The Kaisers (4 stars) vibrates with the vim of virgin rock’n’roll, from the choppy, chiming That Kind of Fun to the urgent sax-driven Do You Wanna Twist, from the plangent lovelorn Keep Walking That Way to the twanging agony and ecstasy of Cruelty. Surf’s up on the likes of Tremblin’ and Guillotine Twist, while the call-and-response harmonies of Ain’t Gonna Talk are pure Merseybeat.

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