After their first album, 1997’s Good Feeling, Travis matured about 15 years in two, ditched the Oasis-esque Brit Rock and reinvented themselves as a Dinner Rock outfit. They replaced feedback with lightly strummed guitars and haven’t looked back since. After the darker affair 12 Memories in 2003, the future of the band seemed uncertain, especially with the seemingly premature release of Singles in 2004. Turns out, that was just to bide time before the release of The Boy With No Name.
The Boy certainly is Travis, and does not stray far from their formula, and sounds like a cross between The Man Who and The Invisible Band. They present another dozen songs (14 if you count the two unlisted tracks, “Sailing Away” and “Perfect Heaven Space”) that are perfect for cooking dinner to.
And while the album is terrific background music, it serves up only a few standout moments. “Selfish Jean” is a terrific upbeat number, and “Battleships” has a cozy Beatles feel to it. “Big Chair” is reminiscent of “The Fear” from The Man Who, and “Closer” has an instant likeability and familiarity.
Other than that, The Boy With No Name is a strictly by the numbers affair, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise since all of Travis’ albums have been fairly spotty, offering only a few great tracks, most of which become singles. Even still, The Boy With No Name is a fine addition to Travis’ catalogue, and will certainly add two or three great songs to their next singles collection.