Reviews \

Travis, ‘Ode to J. Smith’ (Red Telephone Box/Fontana International)

Six albums on, these Scots aim to reverse the creeping bloat in their elegant pop, though bad habits die hard. Despite refreshingly brief songs, frontman Fran Healy can’t resist self-conscious vocal flourishes that insist he’s imparting great truths (shades of Bono), and the bombastic arrangements encourage Andy Dunlop to uncork cheesy,stadium-seeking guitar riffs. In the middle of the album, however, are some terrific, down-to-earth tracks, including the thumping “Get Up,” where Healy declares simply, “I need a little love and a hand to hold.” More such directness and humility, please.

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Tags: Albums