Travis

    {grate 2}

    While fans of rocky rock might find the glossy melancholy of Travis passe, their sixth LP is heavy on beat and light on the tinkly jangle of The Boy With No Name and The Man Who; not only is Ode to J. Smith their first record to feature a prominent electric guitar since 1997 debut Good Feeling, but there’s hardly a tambourine to be found. Like so many other Brit-rock bands this year (ahem, Coldplay), Travis has remodeled its polite quietude for a new bristling drama and thirst for energy.

    Any progression from their opiate-lidded musing should be commended, and Travis’ go at raw, chugging rock chords only slightly wobbles in places. The neutered “Broken Mirror” is a self-explanatory slow-cooker, but is soon compensated by “Song To Self,” which starts out with ethereal organs, plunging into a wonderland of country-fried guitar. “Before You Were Young” highlights Fran Healy’s lightly wispy, frayed voice in a ballad reminiscent of an R.E.M. hook, and the upbeat, lilting “Last Words” does just fine without the repetitive hi-hat of a busy drum kit.

    In the end, Travis’ try at heaviness weighs a tad lopsided, Healy’s dreamy vibes often clashing with a newfound drum-and-bass booming. At its highest, Smith captures a glimmer of old alternative staples, but lows arrive as nothing more than shoddy Oasis sound-alikes.

    Travis will play live at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on Nov. 11.

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