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Travis: Ode to J. Smith (Album Review)

After Travis shifted 2.7m units of 1999’s The Man Who, drummer Neil Primrose broke his neck, and the band bore the blame for guitar AOR. This back-to-basics effort turns up the guitars as high as their 1996 debut, All I Want to Do Is Rock. Where that Travis pointed a way out of Britpop, this one seeks the comfort of how guitar bands sounded before then, the bristling energy recalling early REM, the Chills and even occasionally Nirvana. The album’s most experimental track, J Smith, straps on a dramatic choir. Less convincing are Friends’ Gimme Shelter guitar steals and Long Way Down, which owes much to Oasis’s The Importance of Being Idle. Confusion among fans may be sated by Last Words, their catchiest track since Sing. That being said unless you are a Travis fan this album overall is a pass. Better luck next time lads.