Independiente - 2003 - 47 minutes

Defined by so many for so long as a band who cheer people up, Travis aren't planning to turn too many frowns upside down with '12 Memories'.

This is their bleakest work, there may still be things to hum, but it's doubtful Fran Healy's thoughts on domestic violence and the war in Iraq will be the soundtrack the next time you take the trolley down the aisles. And if some fans are confused they shouldn't feel alone because Travis themselves are also trying to adjust to the darkness.

The first five songs push them in the direction of a great record, with 'Re-Offender' and 'How Many Hearts' leading the stand-off between uplifting choruses and troubled lyrics. But after the latter fades out, the album hits a lull and becomes forgettably downbeat, with only the heavy 'Happy to Hang Around' and the electro and piano of 'Walking Down the Hill' living up to what went before.

Their bravery at not hiding in formula is, however, easy to admire and moments here suggest that creatively, the times ahead will be brighter than anything Healy is writing about here - even if this is more like seven memories than 12.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Quicksand - The Beautiful Occupation - Re-Offender - Peace the Fuck Out - How Many Hearts - Paperclips - Somewhere Else - Love Will Come Through - Mid-Life Krysis - Happy to Hang Around - Walking Down the Hill