Ode to J. Smith

Studio Album by released in 2008

Ode to J. Smith review

The best post-Britpop representatives Travis

The Scottish band Travis is rightfully considered one of the best post-Britpop representatives and it has given the world a lot of great songs in more than a decade of its existence, their number increasing at 11 more this year. The sixth album called Ode To J. Smith has been recorded in just a fortnight late last winter which has become a kind of a record for the Scottish four and the term has proved quite enough to create a sappy and crude sound. Compared to the previous record, last year's almost sugary The Boy With No Name, the new work has turned out to be much tougher and closer to rock. In fact Travis has remembered its past and decided to go back to the beginning of its creative path. The fact that the band has released a separate disc with song J. Smith on its label Red Telephone Box founded 12 ago also witnesses of it. Certainly one of Travis' best albums it will surely refine any music collection.

An electro guitar dominates on Ode To J. Smith

As on the debut Good Feeling, the dominating instrument on Ode To J. Smith is an electro guitar and although Fran Healy's mainly soft vocals have basically not changed there are much more strong emotions in his performance this time around. The record opens with a melancholic blues tune Chinese Blues telling that everything in this world is transient while a great rock number J. Smith has already become many a genre fan's favorite in many respects due to the excellent guitar chords. On the first single Something Anything bassist Dougie Payne definitely plays the leading role but besides the bass line this composition also offers some rather touching lyrics of a failed relationship and a contagious melody. Healy's vocals on a far from an optimistic song Long Way Down is remarkable for a special power and diversity and combined with the expressive drum work makes it one of the best on the album, whereas Broken Mirror is a completely different story: a sullen, mystic and hopeless studying of one's reflection in a broken mirror has become an absolutely unexpected thing performed by Travis. On the contrary the Scottish's quite typical is another melancholic track Friends singing about friendship in the saddest possible manner. The official final track Song To Self is the most impressive on Ode To J. Smith, a loneliness anthem, and a bonus song Before You Were Young pleases with a rustling experimental accompaniment and a beautiful tune.

The contrast of heavy guitars and light vocals

Perhaps Travis' previous album was a successful one but what the guys have done today has surpassed all expectations. Today they will be hardly called sweet-voiced pop performers and will rightly find themselves in the real rock-musicians camp. With the release of Ode To J. Smith the first chapter of the collective's story ends and the second one begins. In February the band's deal with Independiente Records was over and the new work was recorded at RAK Studios in London. The sixth record speaks better than any words that Travis keeps in mind how its career was beginning and the new tracks have accumulated all the best that its music contained at those times. Although there are compositions more similar to the recent albums here the general atmosphere on Ode To J. Smith is still characterized with the rock vigour that has not sounded in Travis' works for quite some time. The contrast of heavy guitars and light vocals attracts as a magnet making one listen to the songs again and again and it is quite an undertaking to pick out the best or a failure among them. To say the least of it, direct, full of ideas and energy charged Ode To J. Smith is the Scottish's best album to date.