After a five year hiatus and a Fran Healy solo record, it is good to have the Scottish stalwarts back on the scene. Things kicked off with the low-key free release of ‘Another Guy’ earlier this year, then recently we were hit with the the first single, the title track and then the recent hit ‘Moving’.
The break has really refreshed the band upon the first few plays. There is a development of the sound from 2008’s ‘Ode To J, Smith’. If anything this record sounds like the highlights of ’12 Memories’ crossed with elements of ‘The Invisible Band’ and the more melodic parts of ‘J.Smith’.
Opening track ‘Mother’ has an incredibly anthemic build up to it’s crescendo and the mood doesn’t dip. It segues into ‘Moving’ which is a strong contender for “Single of the year so far” in my books.
The song writing echoes back to the early stages of their career, the lyrics are deep and focussed, telling the old stories of love and loss. They remind us with a bang how integral they still are to the UK’s music scene and what formidable musicians they are. Tales of Fran’s escapades in going swimming in freezing cold water, running into the studio to record the high notes show how much effort and dedication has gone into crafting these songs.
Andy Dunlop’s guitar playing across the whole album reminds us what an underrated axeman he is. He may not be yielding electric solos like ‘All I Want To Do Is Rock’ or ‘Blue Flashing Light’ any more, but the delicate solitude, the acoustic tremblings and the atmosphere he creates bring so much more to the soundscape of the record.
The mood of the album flows from the aforementioned anthemic opening, through to happy and summery moments and onto reflective quiet times. Personal highlight at the moment is the track ‘Boxes’. A tale of childhood and growing old. ‘New Shoes’ has an underground funk that I don’t recall hearing from Travis before.
Having caught their T in The Park set along with other recent live videos on YouTube, it seems that the confidence with these new songs is carrying on. It’s like seeing the band circa 1999 when ‘The Man Who’ dropped. Expectations for the upcoming UK tour are high and I expect nothing but high quality from them.
Over all ‘Where You Stand’ is an absolute achievement and a return to form. I have no doubt in believing it will return the band to the attention of the British public again. Whether they will regain the height they once had I don’t know, whether the band want that too, I believe they are just content in continuing to do what they love and are passionate about.
“I will be right by you where you stand” Fran sings on the title track, whether this is a message from the band to the fans, or the fans to the band is unknown. Either way, it will be taken to heart in both camps and with this record will prove nothing but mutual love for each other.