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Travis

Epic/Independiente

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During his band’s recent press blitz through the U.S., Travis’ Fran Healy, the Scottish hush-rock quartet’s lead singer, chief songwriter, and oh-so-earnest mouthpiece, cheerfully welcomed endless comparisons between his crew and current tourmates Oasis. And why wouldn’t he? Stoned or sober, those Gallagher goons are apt to go batshit crazy at any second. Because I’m not afraid of anyone, however, I’d like to say that Travis and Oasis don’t sound much like each other at all—soft strum vs. rowdy jangle; soul-pained croon vs. horny whine—but they are fueled by the same approach: Each is amazingly adept at conjuring the spirit of a far-superior band—and sounding beautiful doing so. While the Oasis goons leg-wrestle at the altar of Lennon-McCartney, Travis’ Glasgow-born frontman has an aw-shucks crush on Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. In fact, the high, lonesome coo Healy lets loose on “Writing to Reach You,” the kickoff cut on the new (well, new to the U.S.) The Man Who, could have been sampled from OK Computer. Although his vocals stay fairly Yorke-ian throughout, Healy does occasionally alter song structure: While the folk-minimalism of “As You Are” is Radiohead circa The Bends, the she’s-gone-let’s-drink chant of “Driftwood” sounds like James from the Seven sessions, and the arena love song “Turn” makes like the Verve whenever Richard Ashcroft isn’t quitting the band. Pop mimicry aside, The Man Who, the album of the moment in the U.K. (hovering right above Oasis’ new release, by the way), is an often-times gorgeous endeavor, a complex love letter that doesn’t always end with casually uttered X’s and O’s. —Sean Daly