Back when Travis released the “Something Anything” video, we learned the song appears on the band’s forthcoming Ode To J. Smith album. We also learned the album features a song called “J. Smith.” So the album is an ode to a song that’s on the album. That is the height of titular circularity. As then noted: it “must be a good song.” Probably better to have said “it better be a good song.” Worry not, Fran fans, it is indeed worthy of the odes, and as an LP centerpiece, it’s pretty promising. The rock is raw and the guitar tones crisp, rounded out with some hit-and-miss gothic choral vocals. As for the video: Remember the guy who got trapped in an elevator for almost two days? Here Travis takes the edited highlight reel, swapping out Jennifer Haines’s affecting “The Storm Begins” solo piano piece for their own creation.
It works best during those church choir bits. As far as extensions of Nicholas White’s 40 hours and 15 minutes of fame go, though, Max Silvestri wins.
Ode To J. Smith is due out 9/29 on the band’s Red Telephone Box label.