Travis – Good Feeling

I, like many of my contemporaries (that means socks) first got into the (only famous) Scottish band Travis after seeing their video for “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” back when anything on television played music videos. Though the album that song appears on is great, it’s not the album I’m going to talk about today. I purchased another album that day, which was the only other one available, the band’s debut called Good Feeling.

Is this really the album cover? I could have SWORN I have a different cover on my album, but I am not going to even try digging that case out.

I am not even going to hide the fact that I love this album. Do I love listening to it all the way through every single time? Well… ok not really, the thing suffers a bit from Late Album Slowdown, which is a shame because “Happy” is one of my favorite tracks on the thing.

The first two tracks stand out as two of my favorite songs by anyone from Scotland (that is a joke, there are no other bands in Scotland). First off, we have “All I Want To Do Is Rock“, which is rather slow in tempo, but not compared to the rest of the songs on the album, really Travis like to take it easy on the rockin’. The real strength is also not in the lyrics (I think singer Fran Healey spents an aggregate total of 30 seconds singing just the word “Girl”), but rather, in the delivery. The vocal work in this and many other Travis songs is a thing of pure power, particularly at the end, which is illustrated in the video as a car exploding. Really I could write an ADJ entry about that video alone, it’s so awesome, but instead you should just watch it.

The next song is a song about lovin’ a girl who is too young for lovin’, “U 16 Girls“. Though perhaps not as touching of a jailbait song as some, it’s still a great song and perhaps one of my favorites by Travis in general (also, with a number in the title, it was a shoe-in for a numerical playlist I’m working on). Like the previous song, this song has a high note at the end that is so powerful it distorts the studio equipment (perhaps an intentional move) and could probably also explode a car. I have not tried playing the note for a car because such a thing would be automotively irresponsible.

Then we have a track that I like on most days, but on others consider kind of a weak track, “The Line Is Fine”. It could be because Fran’s often whiney delivery is a little too whiney on this track, it could be because I can’t make head nor tails of the lyrics (due in no small part to English not being the primary language of the Scots), but like I said, most days I think the song is quite all right.

The next song is much better, “Good Day To Die“, which is always a grand title to have on an album called Good Feeling. It features the same mountain of distorted guitars, only they’ve added in some organs and other things and Fran’s voice is particularly suited to the power-pop sound of the whole thing.

The title track marks the middle of the album, and it’s a bit of a departure from the other songs as it features primarily piano (which includes a saloon-style solo in the middle!) The fact that it’s in a minor key and is another slow-moving number is a great if not slightly ironic mood to put a song called “Good Feeling” in. I dig, it’s a really fun track.

Next we’ve got “Midsummer Nights Dreamin'”, which is a fairly nice track, but slightly bone-headed as nearly the whole thing is accomplished in the 2 chords that pound away for most of the thing. It’s also at this point that you might have noticed, other than on “U 16 Girls”, the boys have been using the same beat for every song. They dropped that particularly nasty habit for all the future albums and fancied up the drumming a lot, but by this song, I get a little fatigued from the 1-2 stomping beat. Again, a real shame, because there’s some great stuff on the other side of this song.

For one, we’ve got the pop magic track called “Tied To The 90’s“, which is about ???, but I think most of the meaning can be derived from the song’s title. It’s also got a great video where many copies of members of the band are magically thrown together on the same film, which is incredible.

Then there’s the country-inspired “I Love You Anyways”, which I guess I say is country-inspired because it features a rolling guitar riff that reminds me of “Dark As A Dungeon” by Johnny Cash. It’s a very gentle song compared to the rest of the album, and a welcome reprieve from the oppressive beat I just mentioned, that is, if you make it this far. This is the kind of song that would appear at least a few times in every album from this point, it might wear out its welcome after 5 1/2 minutes, however, so buyer beware.

The next song, however, is “Happy”, which I mentioned before as being one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s as simple-minded as you get, the chorus being basically “I’m so happy, ’cause you’re so happy. HEEEEYYYYYY, ho” and that’s it. Really though, any further extrapolation from that theme would diminish its meaning. The beat even adds a few extra hits within the confines of its 1-2 punch, so happiness all around!

We then have a number that opens up with the sound of water falling, which I kind of hate in recordings, but I guess they are trying to manufacture the “rainy” sound intrinsic in their later work. Now that I think about it, that’s probably a rain-stick they’re using. This song, probably more than “I Love You Anyways” establishes the quintessential “moody” Travis song. It’s a great track and probably would have made a good ending to the album, but we’ve still two more to go!

The song “Falling Down” comes in with a spacey sounding piano, and if this song could be any slower it’d technically fall off the perception range of human hearing. To be honest, I have rarely ever made it to the end of this song, it’s like playing a Frank Sinatra song in slow motion.

The best thing to do in situations where the listener may be suffering from Late Album Slowdown on an album is to pep it up at the end, in order to give the listener something to look forward to. Travis does exactly NOT this, as the final track, “Funny Thing”, is a mostly-acoustic track that seems like it’s building up to something great, what with all the spacey sound effects in the background, but really all that happens in 5 1/2 minutes is a second guitar joins in to make some distorted noise.

So yes, Good Feeling is a good album, but about 3 of the tracks have to be listened to on their own to be even noticed in the mess of slow-down this album puts you through. I’m sure a lot of people dig it, but I am more willing to bet that most people, like me, kind of skip around until they hear their favorite songs and then move on to something like The Man Who which may also be a slow album, but it’s slow consistently, and doesn’t drop you from the high cliff of a rock song like “U 16 Girls”.

A lot of people claim up and down that Coldplay ripped off the Travis sound, but I think the only thing they really stole from them was the Late Album Slowdown of Good Feeling. At least Travis has a great singer!

 

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2 Responses

  1. Another great post! Congratulation for keeping up your blog like that. It’s always a pleasure to discover new things on it.

  2. Aww, I ❤ Travis 🙂

    But yeah, I feel ya on this album…it’s kind of slow, and kind of boring, but I wouldn’t not listen to it, because then I would miss some of my favorite songs in the whole wide world!

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