7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Do not underestimate this album,
This review is from: The Invisible Band (Audio CD)
It must have been notoriously difficult for Travis to produce a follow-up to their massively successful "The Man Who" of 1999. Although this album repeated the feat of its predecessor by going straight in at no. 1 on the UK album chart, it did not win the admiration of nearly as many listeners, who seemed to believe that "The Invisible Band" housed songs of poorer quality than "The Man Who". This has distressed me greatly over the years, and I am eager to persuade you buyers otherwise.
Three Travis singles are included on this album, the most obvious standout being the classic "Sing". This superb track sets the sound for the remainder of the album, with its trademark Travis guitar lines and laid back, indie-tinged rock style. The other two singles are "Side", a fantastic rock fest that thoroughly deserved to break the UK Top 10 or even Top 5, but unfortunately only managed a no. 14 position, and "Flowers in the window", whose jaunty pace ensures that the listener's foot taps irresistibly until the closing stages of the song. Other tracks that follow a similar style to "Flowers in the window" are "Follow the light" and "Afterglow", both of which are rather lively and contain positive lyrics.
As ever, the lyrics in each of these songs are intelligent and true to life, and arguably lead singer Fran Healy's songwriting talents are displayed to their fullest on "The cage": "But then this bird just flew away, she was never meant to stay, oh to keep her caged would just delay the spring." This is one of my favourite tracks on this album, with its beautiful lyrics and lovely melody, sprinkled with simple, dreamy keyboard notes. There are, of course, the customary "depressing" Travis songs included here, which I prefer to think of as being brief moments of self-indulgence for Healy. The curious "Dear diary" suggests that Healy is at the end of his tether; his haunting vocals are surrounded by mysterious electric guitar ostinatos, providing a tense and compelling listening environment. "Indefinitely" could also fit into this moody genre, starting quietly and giving Healy the chance to show his vulnerability.
My personal favourites from "The Invisible Band" are the masterpieces that are "Last train" and "The Humpty Dumpty love song". "Last train" begins with somewhat scary guitar strumming on a single chord, and building relentlessly to a haunting ad-lib section where Healy chimes "woo-woo" in imitation of a helpless, lonely train. The lyrics in this track are more violent than in others featured on this album, and assist wonderfully in creating an apprehensive aura. "The Humpty Dumpty love song" also contains ingenious lyrics: "All of the king's horses and all of the king's men, couldn't pull my heart back together again." There are beautiful string samples that kick in at around one minute and thirty seconds, and their temporary instances of discord are stunningly spine tingling.
In short, this album is an absolute must for music lovers everywhere. In my opinion, it is Travis's finest work to date... excepting their Greatest Hits album, of course.