Travis

Where You Stand

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When Fran Healy sings "Why did we wait so long" on "Mother," the opening song on Travis' seventh album, he could be addressing his band, which spent nearly five years between 2008's Ode to J. Smith and its 2013 follow-up, Where You Stand. The extra time off has done the band some good. Toward the end of the 2000s, Travis started to sag under their own weight, as the group slowly grew more ponderous, and while it certainly can't be said that Where You Stand is effervescent, it is more nimble than either Ode or The Boy with No Name, and it boasts a greater variety of tempos and textures, as well. Travis acknowledges a few passing pop trends -- "Reminder" opens with a whistle that echoes Peter, Bjorn & John's "Young Folks" however fleetingly -- but the best moments arrive when they either kick up the tempo or turn up the amplifier. Oddly, this happens the most on the back half of the album, as they run through a tight glammy shuffle on "Warning Sign," pulse attractively on "Another Guy," flirt with a dark seductive groove on "New Shoes," and conclude with "On My Wall," their loudest song in years. This stretch of songs is the liveliest collection Travis has cut since the '90s, and it's heartening to hear them reconnect with some of the wilder aspects that informed their earliest records.

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