October 7, 2004

Test Spin: Travis Morrison

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Following the year-long disintegration of the Dismemberment Plan, the group’s former frontman Travis Morrison didn’t waste much time writing songs for what would eventually become his debut solo record. Over the course of the last eighteen months, he offered up demos off his website. The results were mixed. Some songs were clearly light-hearted experiments, and the others were decent but didn’t represent any bold steps away from his Plan material. So fans had reason to be skeptical of Travistan.

Again, the results are inconsistent. Travistan has its moments, but they are scattered, and in between are songs that are neither as focused nor as developed as what we’ve come to expect from Morrison. The coherence found on the Plan’s two final releases are absent here, as the only common theme pertains to the four “Get Me Off of This Coin” tracks, which are occasionally humorous but should not serve as the album’s backbone.

“Any Open Door” and “Che Guevara Poster” are both strong, and show that Morrison is still a notable talent. “Change” and “Born in ’72” are not quite on the same level, but are worthwhile nonetheless. Otherwise the album is replete with forced rhymes and bland song structures. Travistan does not carry with it the same gravity that Morrison’s Dismemberment Plan output did, and should not be listened to with such demanding expectations. Travistan is a shaky start for Morrison’s solo career, to be sure. But if given time to further hone his sound, he can reassert his position as one of rock’s finest songwriters. (**)

Archived article by Ross McGowan
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer