Album: Everything at Once
Label: Red Telephone Box
On the eighth studio album by Travis, the post-Britpop stalwarts provide a good effort at the style that has kept them in business for 20 years. On Everything at Once they still head in their usual direction, but with an understanding of their legacy. After ten strong years of making music though, there’s a feeling of liberation for what you do.
Everything At Once feels like what should have followed 2007’s The Boy with No Name. Every band can do what they want, obviously, but after gaining fans, sometimes bands feel pressure from what they put out and feel the need to stick to the same old same old. 2008’s An Ode to J. Smith and 2013’s Where You Stand operated within their parameters, but felt routine. Perhaps this is why Where You Stand feels like it has more to give.
One reason this album felt like it should be after The Boy with No Name is the opening track, “What Will Come,” which sounds like it was taken from the outtakes of that album. Despite this, “What Will Come” gave me high expectations for the rest of the and is one of the best off of it. The next two, “Magnificent Time” and “Radio Song,” were solid tracks. “Magnificent Time” has that classic Travis carefree feel, like their old singles such as “Flowers in the Window.” “Radio Song” felt like it belonged in the late 90’s with an Everclear-type vibe. The next trio of songs (“Paralysed,” “Animals,” and title track “Everything At Once”) are anthemic, classic adult-alternative, radio friendly songs. “Paralysed” recalls 2008’s title track “An Ode to J. Smith” with its choir in the background, while “Everything at Once” has the feeling of a typical Sam Roberts Band jam. The end of the album finishes strongly. “3 Miles High” and “All of the Places” are good songs which demonstrate Travis know what they are doing and how they have honed their craft over the years.
The highlight of the album is the ninth track, “Idlewild.” Healy considers it some of his best writing, and it definitely feels that way. Healy turns the chorus over to Josephine Oniyama, who he considers “the best singer in the [United Kingdom].” It’s the first duet Travis have recorded in their career and she was an excellent choice to bring in for it. It’s refreshing when singers know their limitations, as Healy did, and aren’t afraid to allow someone else to takeover. The album ends with a classic Travis ballad. This ballad, unlike past albums, is an anthem. A small note: this is their third album in a row without a hidden track attached to the end.
A big negative about Everything at Once is Fran Healy is still writing cliché lyrics in most of the songs. Unlike in earlier work, he is unable to pull off the feeling of the clichés meaning. Though this album feels like a bit more of the same, this effort felt fresher and carried a sense of rejuvenation, as opposed to Where You Stand. While this is only an average album, it was nice to see Travis being able to improve from their previous album.