...There’s very little to find fault with.
Al Fox 2007-04-13
Greatest Hits albums, by their nature, are often quickly dismissed. An easy way to make a few quid? A lazy way to round off a five-album deal? All of the above? Still, once out of the way, the benefits become apparent - an opportunity to wipe the proverbial slate clean and reinvent.
As their first studio offering after a singles compilation, The Boy With No Name is an album on which Travis can afford to take risks. Having no laurels left to rest on, it’s time to explore. And while they might not travel too far in any one direction, they certainly cover a hell of a lot of ground.
Don’t allow lead single ''Closer'' to lull you into a false sense of soothing tones and quiet confidence - it’s by no means a representation of The Boy With No Name which may be, arguably, their most eclectic album to date.
''Selfish Jean'', for instance, is an upbeat display of gusto, dormant since the band’s debut Good Feeling. And although the impish excitement is replaced by a more stable, mature brand of oomph, it’s nonetheless a welcome return to a side of Travis that's seldom exposed.
Elsewhere, ''Big Chair'' continues a similarly uptempo sound, but with a considerably darker overtone. The brooding, studio-heavy intro could be lifted straight from a Linkin Park track, resultantly inducing blessed relief once Fran Healy’s vocals materialize where watered-down rap would effortlessly sit.
At the other end of the spectrum, the striking, lager-tinged lullaby, ''Out In Space'', is a stripped-bare gem of acoustic honesty. Where each track acts as a pigeon step in its own given route away from the conventional Travis sound, ''Out In Space'' takes a hefty stride, and succeeds.
While the non-specific climate of The Boy With No Name provides a refreshing listen it’s also its one negative characteristic. A cynic would call it inconsistent, yet at the same time it's too subtle for an optimist to call it diverse. Take it as a simple collection of adept songs, however, and there’s very little to find fault with.