Review Summary: Travis go dark with style. This album provides you with 12 reasons to buy it. 12 Memories.2 of 2 thought this review was well written12 Memories
is the fourth studio album by Travis
. This album represents an almost new Travis. It's much darker than any of the previous efforts from the Scottish rock band. Fran Healy's lyrics have grown to be more serious. There are undoubtly two main reasons to this. First of all, there's 9/11. Second of all; the incident where the drummer, Neil Primrose jumped headfirst into a shallow swimming pool. He almost died due to spinal damage, and if not for his bandmates (this happened on a tour)- he'd surely drown. Amazingly enough, he "only" broke his neck - and managed to make a full recovery, thankfully.
The reason why I'm mentioning 9/11 is the song "The Beautiful Occupation", which cleary is a reflection of the anti-war sentiments of the war in the name of counter-terrorism. A superb track, filled with passion. "I'm too cynical/I'm just sitting here/I'm just wasting my time/half a million civillians gonna die today/but look the wrong way then/read it in the headlines/watch it on the TV/put it in the background
". Powerful and touching lyrics sung by an almost desperate sad voice, kept company by a furious and sharp guitar, thumpy drums and a bassline that catches your attention.
And the song "Peace The *** Out", in which they state that "In ten years time they're gonna say/that this was the momment when you threw it away
" - which basically means that in ten years, we're going to look back on the War of Iraq, knowing 'twas a waste of time, resources, and most importantly - lives. Just like we feel about the war on Vietnam, the Gulf war, actually. Every war. 'Cause every war is just that very thing. A waste of lives. The song has some unusual drumming, and good guitar harmonies as well as quite interesting lyrics. A quite optimistic song, with lyrics like "Oh please don't give up/you have a voice - don't lose it/you have a choice - so choose it/you have a brain - so use it/the time has come to/peace the *** out
Now. Not all the tracks are about war. But they're all pretty dark though. From the domestic violence dominated relationship in "Re-Offender" to the lonely "Quicksand". They words are all quite dramatic and depressing on near every song, 'cept for maybe "Love Will Come Through" - a song about how your loved ones always will come through for you. How you can rely on your parents, friends and so on - no matter what the issue may be.
But not only the words are more serious, dark and depressing. The music itself is quite dark. From the absolutely lovely mellow bassline and the beautiful string arrangements on "Quicksand", to the acoustic guitar, heavy bass and thumpy drums on "Mid-Life Krysis" - which includes a really high-quality vocal performance and a short, very pretty mid-section, by the way, to the very melancholic piano driven "Some Sad Song". It's all dark. But it's never repetetive. Which kind of is this album's card up the sleeve. It really is 12 Memories
. Not just 2 Memories & 10 Fillers. That and that feeling you get when you listen to this album, the feeling of never having heard anything quite like it. That is what makes this such an interesting album. I dare say that this is pretty much one of a kind. And not just in the Travis discography; but one of a kind - period.
The album starts off with the mentioned "Quicksand", one of the best tracks on the whole album. "Take me away, take me away
", says Fran Healy - over the hard-hitting drums, the deep bass, and the classy melancholic piano. After a little piano/vocal interplay mid-through the song, a short but absolutely lovely cello solo by Sarah Willson kicks in at 1:29, before the last verse - in which Healy sings with a forsaken heart "But it makes no difference to me/it's just the sound of one more rock star bleeding now
". A masterpiece of a song.
On it's counterpiece, the mentioned "Love Will Come Through", Travis seems like a different band. A comfortable acoustic guitar drives the song along with the pleasant bassline and the laid back drumming. On top there's the stupefying soft voice of Fran Healy, and in the background lies a brilliantly performed electric guitarriff.
"How Many Hearts" is another acoustic guitar driven song. But in this one the piano plays a vital role, along with the guitar and the incredibly pillowy voice that Fran possesses. A very mellow and quiet song, until it breaks loose with a loud piano, and a cool electric guitar at 1:22, only to return to its quiet nature on 1:47. An overall very nice song.
It is followed by the strange piece of music that is "Paperclips". A track that might demand a few listens before you really appreciate it for its genius atmosphere. A very leisurely track, with just a few beats on the drums - and a relaxed acoustic guitar kept company by the tranquil bass. Definitely a stand out track, with Fran sounding like a mental patient who's forgotten his meds today. "I don't wanna be like you anymore/I don't wanna see your face at my door/and I'll never leave like you/that's for sure
" says Fran. What it's all about, I'm not quite sure of. I just know that it sets a chilly and freaky atmosphere that I am very fond off.
After that track follows the much more upbeat "Somewhere Else". A loud electric guitar. A nicely performed piano/acoustic guitar interplay that drives the song. A bassline that keeps in the background, but never fails to maintain your attention.
Another superb track is "Happy To Hang Around". A very melancholic and sad song. Words like "I'll never get into your heart/no I don't even want to start/I'll never get into your heart/I'm just happy to hang around
" really mars you. This and the piercing distorted guitar that kicks in at 2:28. Really furious and passionate, and really - really sad. Yes. Even the guitars are sad on this album. But all in a good way, 'course.
The last song on the album is called "Some Sad Song". And it's a superb piece of music. A piano driven track, focusing on the lyrics and voice of Fran. Lines like "Blame it on my style/take a pill/don't tell me how to feel
" and "Uncle Sam, playing in the sand/understand, hold my hand/time is never gonna stop running
" are guaranteed to make you really, really LISTEN to this track. Those lines and the beautiful falsetto when Fran sings "Bad news in twos/shout it from the highest hill/sing me some sad song
" closes this wonderful album with style.
Overall, I'd say this is an excellent album. An album with 12 reasons to buy it. 12 Memories