12 Memories is not what I expected at all. I've always liked Travis, but never was that familiar with their records: I knew the "Sing," and "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?" sound of the band, the melodic non-chalance of their somnolent music. Yet, Travis' new record sounds definitely more confident and developed. The first song, "Quicksand," is a perfect example of this: the acoustic-sounding, piano driven song is very lively. Yet, there is still that deep-down sense of not being content
The soaring backgrounds of the next track, "Beautiful Occupation," highlight counterpoint of crunchy and soft guitar. Again, Travis marries perfectly an extremely soft tone with forceful musicianship, making a seemingly impossible combination of dreaminess and stark realities appear as one.
I can honestly say I've never heard a bad Travis song. Their use of melody coupled with unconventional sounds for their pop-laden songs make each track a refreshing change from the last. What stands out the most is the uninhibited use of the rock guitar sound, no matter how raw or crunchy… and it doesn't take away from the song at all. Plus, such as at the end of "Peace the Fuck Out," there's what sounds like a crowd at a soccer match. Its things like that which adds little bits of nuance and unpredictability to what seems like a straightforward pop record.
This is a record that is definitely solid throughout: all the tracks, from the softly electric "Paperclips," to the off-tempoed "Love Will Come Through," lead into the next, making an album that sounds wholly connected. The final song, "Walking Down the Hill," though, is the standout. Starting off with a simple, electronic backbeat, it then slowly builds with xylophone and strings, swirling and halting as the song grows with subdued intensity. It's very, very interesting, and showcases the talent and ear the group has for fine distinction. Even after the song ends, the track continues to a soft piano tune, brimming with sadness and heartfelt passion.
Travis shows that they are a great band, a consistent band, a serious band.
Tom Fraher is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at email@example.com.