The Boy With No Name Review

artist: Travis date: 04/14/2008 category: compact discs
Travis: The Boy With No Name
Release Date: May 8, 2007
Label: Sony
Genres: British Trad Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Britpop
Number Of Tracks: 12
Far from being a long-gestating leap forward, The Boy with No Name offers a comfortable, familiar Travis, but there is a slight, subtle difference: the band has truly embraced their modesty, settling into their gentleness.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 8.7
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reviews (3) 8 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
The Boy With No Name Reviewed by: Limey, on may 23, 2007
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Sound: This is Travis' first album since 2003 after deciding they needed a break and wanting to take their time tomake the best album they could. This is unmistakably a Travis album. All the tracks sit comfortably with the rest of their back catalogue yet it's hard to find which older ones they sound like. They've definitely matured. The slightly bitter melancholy of 12 Memories has gone and been replaced with an altogether more confortable and serene feel. It's a pretty mellow record on the whole as you'd expect from them but "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open" are a couple of livelier numbers. There are no powerful solos to speak of but Andy Dunlop's guitar melodies are quite researched and pleasant. The bass and drums keep the songs chugging along nicely. Dougie Payne and Andy Dunlop contribute songs for the first time on an album, though they'd done B-sides before. // 8

Lyrics: Fran Healey has always been a great asset to the band in the lyrics department. This album is no exception, although New Amsterdam (Fran loves New York) sounds a little forced and simply has all the clichs about the city that you could think of to make up the lyrics. The most interesting line for me would be "With a perfect combination of good etiquette and charm, You keep the chocolate biscuits wired to a car alarm" in "Selfish Jean". Fran's soaring vocals are back and better than ever. (he stopped smoking before recording this record and it has had a fantastic effect on his voice). // 8

Overall Impression: This album isn't going to change the world but it makes it a happier place. If you liked The Man Who especially, you'll love this. Get the UK version if you can as it has 2 bonus tracks which are worth a listen. The long breaks between the last track and the hidden ones are quite annoying though. The best tracks in my opinion would be "Selfish Jean" (nice and upbeat), "Big Chair" (has a real atmosphere) and Battleships which is about the little fights in a relationship and you just know this sweet little song would sort everything out if you sung it to your other half. Should it come to be stolen I wouldn't buy it again as I'd have all the tracks on my PC, and also because it cost me 17 and a half quid with postage from Recordstore! // 8

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overall: 9.3
The Boy With No Name Reviewed by: Paul Lambeth, on may 29, 2007
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Sound: An incredibly beautiful comeback from their 4-year break, Travis' sound has been furtherly defined, with peaceful acoustic melodies that you might have come to recognise from their previous albums. However, they also have a few heavier numbers, especially "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open". This hasn't changed their sound one bit though in my opinion - still a very peaceful, relaxing album. This album combines many influences musically from other instruments other than just the typical guitar-drums-vocals mix that most British bands now follow. "Selfish Jean", "Closer", "Battleships" and "My eyes" all contain violins, cellos and the like, to add to the humble yet atmospheric sound that Travis achieve. The introduction of female backing vocalists (namely Julia Stone in "Battleships" and KT Tunstall in "Under the Moonlight") also work to enhance their peaceful, melodic sound. // 10

Lyrics: Fran Healy (lead vocalist) continues to show his vocal skills and vocal range, changing from beautifully smooth, flowing styles in "Closer", "Big Chair" and "Battleships" especially, that make me frankly want to hug someone, to more country and blues-influenced harsher vocals in "Eyes Wide Open". The one fault I have with the vocals, apart from slight dislike of the harsher vocal styles, is that with the addition of female backing talent in KT Tunstall and Julia Stone, they haven't let this shine through as much as I'd like them to. That is to say, they're barely noticeable. But I'm not complaining - they do support Fran's high range very well. In terms of the lyrics themselves, Travis have continued with the expression of tales of love, both good and bad, with deep meaning. From the showing of the inevitability of it all in "3 times and you lose", there's a constant theme of acceptance in most of the songs; "Ahh Jean the slate is clean, I guess we're fine" - Selfish Jean, "But I'm trying to see your point of view" - My Eyes, "One night can turn all your colours to white; One night, it's easier said than done" - One Night. Some friendly but original metaphors are styled to avoid looking cheesy, with some of the more intricate ones said rather in haste, especially "You keep the chocolate biscuits wired to a car alarm". When the lyrics are harsh, reflecting upon doomed relationships or inevitability, the music reflects this. When the lyrics are soft, offering comfort (especially "Closer"), the music again reflects this. The lyrics comply with the music almost as one. However, if there's one song I must say the lyrics strike me as odd, that is in "New Amsterdam". It lacks the originality of the other songs, with overused metaphors to describe New York which frankly make me skip past this song. It's a shame to end on such an unoriginal note. // 9

Overall Impression: If I wanted to compare Travis to other artists, I'd like to say some of the British atmospheric, but sometimes understated, bands. Snow Patrol's collaberation with female artist Martha Wainwright and with other instruments besides guitars helping their style compares them very nicely to Travis. Lyrically they're very similar too - tales of love are dominant with both artists, but in a less-than-harsh way. "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open" I'd be more inclined to compare to the Fratellis and The Kooks, but if you don't really like them, don't let that put you off buying it! That's only with two songs, and Fran's voice still shines through the instruments. "Closer", "Big Chair" and "Battleships" are arguably my three favourites from this album. Closer was the first track I heard from the album when I saw the music video on television, and it struck me; not only musically! If you haven't seen the video for it, DO!! A strange appearance of Ben Stiller in an uninteractive supermarket with Fran walking in dressed as a teddy bear makes this one to watch. The vocal style of "Battleships" is something that for the first few times I could have sworn I recognised. A beautiful song, it incorporates some Lord Of the Rings sound in the first couple of lines with harmonising on the word "Love" not too disimilar from something out of "Neverending Story". Awesome. I love how, even after 4 years of taking a break to record an album that'll blow people away, they haven't changed their style. Acoustic melodies and Fran's voice with the instruments collaberating still shines through, but without saying "We're Travis. This album rocks. Buy it". Even though that's what I think of it. This album alone's made me a Travis fan. If it were stolen? I'm not very aggressive so I'd run away back home. But I'd hate the person who stole it all the same. Don't forget to listen to the end of "New Amsterdam" for the bonus track! It's on at about 6:00. // 9

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overall: 9.3
The Boy With No Name Reviewed by: Robbiekeano, on april 14, 2008
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Sound: 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. // 9

Lyrics: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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