Over the span of almost three decades, Scottish indie rock stalwarts Travis have persevered, both holding faithful to the sound that they helped break into the U.K. mainstream in the '90s and rocking long enough to watch their sonic progeny spread their wings and fly off in various artistic directions (see: Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol). And through it all, Travis remained reliable, seldom veering too far from the center. On their eighth album, Everything at Once -- a long-form commentary on modern life in the 21st century -- they revive familiar sounds and also push themselves into more cheerful and unencumbered directions. Vocalist Fran Healy's voice remains tender as ever on plaintive throwbacks like the strumming "All of the Places" and the warm "What Will Come," both of which would fit seamlessly on The Man Who or The Invisible Band. Rougher-edged moments like the '90s nostalgic "Radio Song" and the Muse-lite Wild West epic "Paralysed" sidle up nicely with the darker 12 Memories or Ode to J.Smith, their heaviest album to date. The highlights are the three most surprising tracks on Everything. "Magnificent Time" -- inspired, in part, by Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley -- is a positively ebullient number that bursts with joy. Within the Travis discography, it's a bit jolting -- think "Selfish Jean" with a lot more sunshine -- but the band's happiness is infectious. The title track, penned by bassist Dougie Payne, injects a funky strut to the album, with a slinky bassline and speak-singing reminiscent of Achtung Baby/Zooropa-era U2. "Idlewild," a magical duet with English singer/songwriter Josephine Oniyama, pops up toward the end of the album. There's a slightly disconcerting tone, despite the gorgeous manner in which Healy and Oniyama trade off verses, like a less scary version of Nick Cave's Murder Ballad duet with Kylie Minogue. The album closes with the uplifting radio-ready U2-meets-OneRepublic "Strangers on a Train." All at once, it reflects both the bands that influenced them and the ones that they have influenced over the years. The album's title may refer to modern society's urge for instant gratification, but it also provides a symbolic nod to what Travis have done over the course of their career. Everything at Once is their liveliest and most lighthearted effort to date, a celebration of both their legacy and their maturity.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung