Travis – 10 Songs
Resurfacing after four years, long-standing Scottish band Travis maintain a steady trajectory with new album 10 songs. The no-fuss title concept runs throughout Fran Healy’s straightforward approach to life’s transiency and its toll on love. Self-assured carriers of an irresistible sing-along spirit, the group’s return is like that of a warm old friend, spinning sunshine out of sadness with easy-going familiarity.
Waving at the Window wastes no time, faultlessly balanced with animated piano sprinkled over silky falsetto. A tale of one torn at a romantic crossroads, it feels reminiscent of Keane, with a bittersweetness that aches through lively instrumentation.
Without Susannah Hoffs, The Only Thing would underwhelm. Healy’s trusty time-worn voice, flickering with tones of Bono, is graced by Hoff’s smooth country sound in a collaboration that relies on vocals. It lacks punch but there is a pleasing fluidity between the two singers.
The tranquillity is interrupted by the clipped strings of Valentine, which morphs into a confusing circus of disjointed rock. An unsettling structure is remedied by the affecting strain of Healy’s turmoil, and if prepared for some out-of-character discomfort, the track has potential to grow on you.
A Ghost is the Travis we know and love, a heel-tapping tune that entices with vibrating energy. Expressing fears of life passing him by, the frontman reminds us to live rather than hide with a number both magnetic and memorable, despite being exactly what we have come to expect from the band.
Butterflies soldiers on through melancholy in a breeze of optimism. Tame repetition and some borderline cheesy backing vocals create a certain haziness, but this daydream atmosphere is what makes it an enjoyable listen, both catchy and charming. A similar nostalgia is present in the patchwork narrative of Nina’s Song, an enduring expression of childhood pains, both nuanced and poignant.
Tender falsetto whispers through All Fall Down as the many sides of love, both good and bad, are laid out against easy strumming. Delicate yet densely heartfelt, this track finds depth in undecorated fragility.
“No regret, no shame, just under the weather”: No Love Lost etches out the mundane reality of a grey day. Though the song is pleasant, offering an honesty we can all find solace in, it falls short of the profundity expected from a final track. One is left wondering if this was one mellow ballad too many.
10 Songs doesn’t cut corners, nor does it challenge limits, with many songs seeming to settle rather than take a risk. However, a yearning for momentum and purpose resonates through the album and the band continue to impress with a complete harmony of sound and energy. Travis can still be relied upon for fleeting feel-good moments, delivering that same humble devotion to timeless melodies.
Photo: Ryan Johnston
10 Songs is released on 9th October 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Travis’s website here.
Watch the video for the A Ghost here: