Volume 93, Issue 70

Thursday, February 3, 1999


Winnipeg trio plans to live up to name

Sunny skies ahead for Travis

Coupland's Miss Wyoming wins the competition

Sunny skies ahead for Travis

The Man Who

Never accuse British music magazines of understatement. In yet another case of the Brit hype machine nearly crushing the latest sensation, Q and Select have gone out of their way to laud Travis as the band that may in fact save the world. No pressure, though.

Unlike many to be given the "next great thing" label, Travis have handled the pressure and fame rather well. The quartet, led by burgeoning Scottish heart-throb Fran Healy, has managed to support this weight on the strength of the album, The Man Who. The new year and a North American tour now bring this masterpiece across the Atlantic for the all important acid test any successful Brit band must face – the North American audience.

In a market consumed with hip-hop, rap and cock rock, it may be difficult for a group of skinny, guitar-playing art school grads to find success and acceptance. If this does turn out to be the case, it will say nothing for the immense depth and emotion that runs through Travis' latest release.

The 10 track album consists of soft, mellow ballads and songs of lost love. Beginning with "Writing To Reach You," Healy's voice glides over emotional depths and aches of joy and pain.

Periodically sounding like their friends from Oasis and exhibiting a large Radiohead influence, Travis present a familiar sound that, at the same time, maintains its own uniqueness. In a British music world, riddled with Oasis, Radiohead and Blur clones, Travis manages to stand on the shoulders of these giants and find their own look and sound.

While "Driftwood," "Turn" and "She's So Strange" stand above the other tracks on the album, the most stirring offering comes from "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" The band's first single is easily one of the best pop songs of the past year, if not decade.

The only chink in Travis' delicate armour comes from their somewhat sub-par lyrics. One minute beautiful, the next sophomoric, Healy's words can undermine the beauty of the music built around them.

Maturity and experience will, in all hope, correct this flaw and allow Travis to fully realize their potential as the men who would be kings.

–Aaron Wherry

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Copyright The Gazette 2000