Sound — 9
Elsewhere, Big Chair continues a similarly uptempo sound, but with a considerably darker overtone. The brooding, studio-heavy intro could be lifted straight from a Linkin Park track, resultantly inducing blessed relief once Fran Healy's vocals materialize where watered-down rap would effortlessly sit. Don't allow lead single Closer to lull you into a false sense of soothing tones and quiet confidence, it's by no means a representation of The Boy With No Name which may be, arguably, their most eclectic album to date. Selfish Jean, for instance, is an upbeat display of gusto, dormant since the band's debut Good Feeling. And although the impish excitement is replaced by a more stable, mature brand of oomph, it's nonetheless a welcome return to a side of Travis that's seldom exposed. At the other end of the spectrum, the striking, lager-tinged lullaby, Out In Space, is a stripped-bare gem of acoustic honesty. Where each track acts as a pigeon step in its own given route away from the conventional Travis sound, Out In Space takes a hefty stride, and succeeds.
Lyrics — 10
The album's name was inspired by the singer's lengthy hesitation naming his baby son. Ironically, none of the band members are named Travis, so while their album is called The Boy With No Name, they have a name that doesn't belong to any boy. Healy is back in full lovey-dovey mode, and while his lyrics can make the album seem like you're sitting through an extended episode of Mad About You, he sells such earnest, rosy-hued sentiment especially well. In fact, few singers can spew such sickly sweet lyrics as, You know that I heart everything about you, and make it sound as sincere as Healy can, and therein lies this modest album's charm.
Overall Impression — 9
As their first studio offering after a singles compilation, The Boy With No Name is an album on which Travis can afford to take risks. Having no laurels left to rest on, it's time to explore. And while they might not travel too far in any one direction, they certainly cover a hell of a lot of ground. While the non-specific climate of The Boy With No Name provides a refreshing listen it's also its one negative characteristic. A cynic would call it inconsistent, yet at the same time it's too subtle for an optimist to call it diverse. Take it as a simple collection of adept songs, however, and there's very little to find fault with. Past the midway point, the album does start to lose steam. One Night pours on the melodrama a little too thickly, Out in Space sounds like a toss-off, Healy's melodies paling in comparison to the previous stronger moments, and the New York tribute of New Amsterdam comes off as hollow and pretentious (right down to the inclusion of the sounds of birds chirping, horse hooves clopping, and sirens wailing), clashing with the album's more intimate feel. Still, the disappointing moments are fleeting, as Travis has figured out that the niche they created for themselves eight years ago is a comfy one, a sound which, inoffensive and safe as it may be, suits the band perfectly.