It’s been almost five years since Travis released their last record, and it seems like the lengthy break was the best thing they could have done. Where You Stand is a magical album that will almost make you forget the bloated mess that was 2008’s Ode to J Smith, and ranks up there with previous high-water albums like 2007’s The Boy With No Name and 1999’s breakout record The Man Who. Where You Stand is a very cohesive record, lyrically and sonically, and is a pretty dreamy release.
Fran Healy’s delicate, sometimes cracking falsetto leads the way throughout and gives the album a sense of grace and ease despite the sometimes troubling content. The echoing piano pop shuffler “Boxes” quietly laments the way commerce and the daily grind saps away our lives, while the piano ballad “The Big Screen” details Healy’s efforts to enjoy life and make it meaningful despite how tiny and insignificant he might feel. The mid-tempo rock of “Moving” accentuates the song’s focus on how life keeps moving on despite our best-laid plans, and “Mother” is an uplifting piano pop number that is the perfect way to start the album.
You get the sense in listening to this album that a weight has been lifted off the band’s shoulders. They seem more at ease writing these songs, whether it is the lyrical tone they strike—which is serious but only occasionally steers into maudlin territory—or the music itself—which is upbeat, dreamy and ethereal for a good chunk of the record—and the eleven songs that have resulted are expertly crafted and feel completely organic as a result. Sure there aren’t any second comings of “Why Does it Always Rain On Me?,” the criminally underrated “Battleships” or even their seminal song “Writing to Reach You,” but that’s the point. They’ve reached a stage in their career where it’s more important to make great songs without worrying about whether or not any of them will be hits, and that’s what makes this album a much-needed fresh start for the band.
Where You Stand is a subtly engaging and completely hypnotic experience that will make you fall in love with this band all over again.