Travis Good Feeling Independiente ISM 488522 2

ANDY GILL ON ALBUMS: `This is undoubtedly one of the album debuts of the year'

Andy Gill
Thursday 11 September 1997 23:02
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Fran Healy of Travis may be the last great songwriter thrown up by the Britpop boom, a man who knows the value of both a well-turned phrase and a simple, infectious "na-na-na-na" hook. Good Feeling is stuffed with both, an albumful of hums and rumination in which sly humour and sharp emotion co-exist, often within the same song.

Take, for example, the title track, where the twists of euphoria and apprehension in a new relationship are swept through in three-and-a-half minutes of giddy singalong pop that seems so familiar, it's like listening to an old music-hall number - an impression reinforced by the ramshackle tack-piano solo, one of several strokes of arrangement genius that decorate the album's songs. Or "Tied to the 90s", a simple conceit inflated into a surefire pop hit by sheer enthusiasm and the kind of chummy camaraderie common to both The Waterboys and The Travelling Wilburys. Not that you should let that put you off, mind.

Travis's pair of lead-off singles, "All I Want To Do Is Rock" and "U16 Girls", suggested a new pop presence of impressive gifts and abilities, but at the side of songs such as "Happy", "I Love You Anyways" and the tracks mentioned above, they turn out to be two of the album's weaker tracks. Recorded at the legendary Bearsville Studio in upstate New York - home of notable albums by Todd Rundgren, The Band and Jesse Winchester - with Steve Lillywhite (U2, Simple Minds, The La's) behind the desk, Good Feeling constantly throws off hints and echoes of myriad major-league outfits from Oasis to The Eagles, Nirvana to The Beatles. On one level, it's firmly in the Scots transatlantic folk-rock tradition of Del Amitri and Teenage Fanclub, but there's a grungier edge to the sound and a taste for distorted guitars that sets Travis slightly apart from their peers.

If there is fault to be found with Good Feeling, it's probably less to do with the material than with the production and performances. In particular, there's a tendency to trudge rather than swagger in the manner the songs deserve, and some tracks could do with a little more trip to their gait - but that's a minor consideration on what is undoubtedly one of the debuts of the year.

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