Ode to J. Smith
(Red Telephone Box/Fontana North)
Having emerged in the late '90s, along with forgettable bands from Cast to Oasis (if only we could forget), Travis releases its sixth proper album. Singer-guitarist Fran Healy is the principal songwriter once again, though bassist Douglas Payne co-writes on several, including a standout/rock-out number, "Something Anything." Healy's one of the most clever, cheekiest pop writers working today. He can write short fiction-esque sketches (the title track especially) to sharp social and political commentary. This is a thinking man for the thinking listener who also likes tunes with sonic oomph. Because, boy, does the band ever deliver that.