As a child, I remember being constantly pinched on the cheek in synagogue by elderly women (AKA the Sisterhood, not to be confused with the female rap group, tha' Sista-hood). I would do everything within my power to avoid this weekly ritual by ditching the kiddush early and running home immediately. There were comics to read. But even more so, I could not tolerate the cute label. "Oh, he's so cute," they would say. And if you can see the picture of me above, I am anything but cute.
Judging by Travis' third album, the Invisible Band, the Scottish four seem very comfortable with their "cute" label. So much so, that they would stay in synagogue way past services and invite the elderly to feast with their fingers on cheeks aplenty. This is not necessarily a complaint – in a world of Limps, Korns, and Stainds, it's quite refreshing to hear a band that falls into the musical category of My Little Pony. With song titles like "Sing", "Side", "Safe", and "The Cage", it's quite obvious off the bat that Travis is not looking to challenge you lyrically or wax poetic. For example, in "Follow the Light" they simply sing "but it's alright, just follow the light and don't be afraid of the dark." While listening to this song in public, a friend mentioned non-chalantly that he, too, was afraid of the dark. And therein lies the disarming beauty of Travis. It is so unpretentious and welcoming that the listener is unwillingly transformed into a free-spirited child. After one listen, you too may admit that the street light seeping in-between your Levelers comforts you to sleep.
If you are familiar with their previous album, The Man Who, you know what to expect. Invisible is the "Temple of Doom" to The Man Who's "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Both fit within the same mold, consciously keeping with a successful formula. While the former was a sweet touching album, picking up on what Radiohead had abandoned (writing songs), the latter is very much the same. Producer Nigel Godrich has once again brought the golden sound which allows these songs to evoke true emotion. The jangly folk pop sound is not a simple feat to accomplish without eye rolling all around. And while The Invisible Band comes dangerously close ("…but if you sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. For the love you bring won't mean a thing unless you sing, sing, sing."), lead singer Fran Healy's voice is so charismatic and apologetic, you embrace the simplicity like a beautiful girl that's just offered you a hug.
So if it's a perfect Sunday morning album you're looking for, one that spirits no antagonism. This is it. Because this will go perfectly with a glass of orange juice and French toast. And you'll put it on while even still wearing your pajamas. Because everyone knows that pajamas are cute. And so is this album