TRAVIS 12 Memories (Independiente) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
12 Memories, the hotly anticipated follow-up to 2001's The Invisible Band, shows moody Scots Travis fleshing out their acoustic-strummy singer/songwriter shtick with surprisingly restrained string arrangements and lush piano fills. It's still pretty glum, but the musicianship is super-solid, so you can almost forgive the wrist-slittingly depressing lyrics. However, aside from some notable upbeat moments - the Beatlesesque jangle of the nouveau-hippie Peace The Fuck Out is fab, and, implausibly, not too earnest - the record as a whole has too much of a samey quality. That's always been my problem with Travis: I really want to love their tunes, but can't tell them apart. Instead, I channel my love into frontman Fran Healey, the dude who really brought the faux-hawk into mainstream pop culture.