Needle Drop: Travis,
The Invisible Band 20th Anniversary Deluxe
Box Set

Even though it’s technically their third album, we really should consider The Invisible Band from Travis as their sophomore release. They defined their signature sound on The Man Who, which is far superior to their debut, in my opinion, and with the pressure to replicate that success, Travis found themselves facing the much-dreaded sophomore jinx.

Not wanting to fix something that’s not broken, The Invisible Band finds the band doubling down on that magical formula from the previous album—that dreamy, haunting, sunny at times, cloudy at others, but all around hopeful sound that defined the band and set them apart from the sea of others at the time. To be honest, I had forgotten how much I loved this record, and the fact that it took me 20 years to remember it is frightening.

The much-deserved 2oth anniversary deluxe edition could be considered overkill for the casual fan, but for those of us who “got it” the first time around, it’s a brilliant glimpse into the mindset and memories of a band that was at its creative peak. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the last record (2020’s 10 Songs), but I’m also waiting for the band to do the inevitable, back to our roots thing (minus the first album).

Yeah, I’m pretty particular, but the world needs more of that Travis sound from those two records. I welcome the experimentation, for example the banjo hitting in the opening cut “Sing” threw me off for a second, but it works well in context. That’s what I was hoping for in the latter years; pushing the boundaries, but keeping that original luster.

Back to this masterpiece, though. Start to finish, it’s a great listen. “Sing,” “Flowers in the Window,” “Side”—this one holds its own against The Man Who easily. I was living in the States when this one came out and, in full disclosure, was working for Sony Music at the time as an artist development rep, so I saw firsthand the buzz around this album and the effort that was put into breaking the band wide open by Epic Records.

Sadly, it didn’t meet expectations. Not because the record wasn’t excellent or the live shows weren’t stellar, but because the US has no idea what to do with bands like this. You could say the same thing with 9 out of 10 successful Brit-pop bands that try to break into the States, it’s nothing new.

The band came up with the title The Invisible Band because they felt that even with the success of The Man Who, you still couldn’t pick them out of a lineup. But none of that matters now that this record gets a proper deluxe edition for the fans. The unreleased material, live songs, and demos here are brilliant, and actually more than I would have expected.

The only gripe I have is that I would have loved more about the history. There are some lovely insights from the band and producer, but I feel like there’s much more to this story, and I love the behind-the-scenes stuff. Either way, the packaging is stellar and the sound of the vinyl is massive and it makes for an excellent gift for the vinyl lover.

Get the vinyl and other exclusive bundles here.

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