Travis – Ode to J. Smith – review

Artist: Travis
Title: Ode to J. Smith
Label: Fontana
Rating: 8/10

Corporate line:
“Ode To J. Smith” by Travis is 11 tracks of their loudest, edgiest and most arresting record yet. The album was recorded at Rak Studios in London and produced by Emery Dobyns (Antony & The Johnsons, Patti Smith, Battles) and mixed at Electric Lady Studios in NY. Healy says this album was ‘born out of a rush of creative urgency, a need to make a record; it has to be amazing…the most cohesive thing we’ve ever done. When you move so quickly, there is little time to reflect. You have to be decisive.’ In 12 years, Travis has sold ten million records, numerous accolades, headlined festivals all over the world.

The good:

“Something Anything” – The catchiest song since “Sing.” I’ve doubted for a long time that Travis had it in them to produce this good of a track ever again. I’m pleasantly surprised.

“Chinese Blues” – “The snow was falling on his shoulders by the side of the road” is the songs ghostly opener that never leaves your mind. The guitars roar with the same urgency of REM’s “Monster” and help us discover something we never knew about Travis–they can rock.

“Long Way Down” – This sounds oddly familiar. I hate to claim that it sounds like Oasis’ fabulous track “Importance of Being Idle” but it’s hard not to draw the numerous parallels.

“Quite Free” – Good at some points. The bridge is weak–if that were cast aside it might have been a much better song. It’s catchy and certainly going to get a lot of replays.

“Last Words” – If “Sing” had a twin this would be it. It’s unbelievably addictive and is one of the tracks that best fits the Travis that fans have known for a decade.

“Friends” – A good song even though it mimics some thing Keith Richards might have laid down in the past.

“Get Up” – This sounds like a slower version of K.T. Tunstell’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” So much so that Tunstell might start contemplating legal action.

“Song To Self” – Very, very catch but not exactly brilliant. Another Travis song that you could sing over and over again.

The rest:

“J Smith” – If the epic flavor would have been there from the opening of the track it might have falling in the good bucket. Instead it ends up in the leftovers.

“Broken Mirror” – For a solid twenty seconds you might mistake this for a Nirvana song. Too bad Fran Healy doesn’t have the same power and urgency in his voice.


With great lines still in Healy’s arsenal like “You’re designed to fall apart on the day the warranty ends” on “Chinese Blues” there is still hope that Travis can continue to be a good band. I know all hope was lost after the last release–but “Ode To J. Smith” is a new light shining on the Travis and its history and future. The album “Closer” was a bore–but with the release of “Ode of J. Smith” Travis is officially back.

Watch the video for “Something Anything”

Watch “Song to Self”

Watch the video for “J. Smith”

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.