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CD Reviews:  Travis: The Invisible Band

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Never has an album title been more appropriate than for Travis's third release, The Invisible Band. For after two critically acclaimed major-label records, the most recent of which is 1999's The Man Who, which is just brilliant, Travis remains an unknown band. Amazing when you consider the global press, who chooses to gush over the creative accomplishments of Radiohead while unthinkably ignoring this Scottish foursome. To their credit, Travis spend little time sulking in their unfortunate obscurity.

On The Invisible Band, Fran Healy and company pick right up where they left off a couple years ago, with a handful of sugary, catchy moments played simply, even if unnoticeably. Take the feel-good jangle of "Flowers in the Window" for example. Its frisky acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment would make any sing-a-long mix tape complete! The Neil Young-like "Sing," which opens the album, enlists the help of a clever banjo to pull the song out of the ordinary. In fact, with the exception of "Dear Diary," which is oddly misplaced, the first half of this record flows along perfectly. Healy's quietly raspy Scot accent does little to remind you that this band didn't get its start on American soil. The songs are dreamy but bright, catchier than recent Radiohead, and altogether solid. "Follow the Light" and the alt-radio and video hit "Side" are the finest moments, but you won't find yourself skipping over many songs to get to them. This is a well-crafted and complete collection, not pound-for-pound as strong as The Man Who, but more than worth your time.

Pity that more British/Scottish stars don't shine as brightly in the U.S. When you really get to know the talents of a band like Travis, you wonder how many others over the pond might be starving for the same kind of recognition.

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