Welcome to our annual top 10 countdown. Warning you now, a lot of music posts coming up.

10. The Boy With No Name – Travis

This could be considered loyalty buying if not for the fact I almost didn’t buy this album. But slowly, the singles started to get caught in my head, and I pulled out the money to see what my old friends were up to.

There is a lot of talk about a return to form, that the wonderful politically angry Travis has been buried with 12 Memories. And that’s true, it’s not an angry record at all. And yes, it’s full of the optimistic melancholy that Travis mines better than anyone else.

And in the end of the day, what I like about Travis is they are just good. No tacky tricks. No stadium anthems. It’s a very intimate band – which I guess is why fans get so obsessed.

It seems songwriter Fran Healy is in a happier place. There is maybe a bit more optimism than melancholy this time around (and a theme in most of the albums I loved this year – happy albums). It’s slow, beautiful, and at moments very fun.

The slow burn winner is the first single – Closer. The only way to describe this track is seductive. It’s a beautiful love song, nothing more, nothing less. Tremendous backing vocals. A classic that these guys will be playing at every concert for the rest of their lives.

There is, of course, quite a few gorgeous mid tempo-y things on here. One Night and 3 Times And You Lose being top of the list. And some genuine rockers. Selfish Jean was everywhere on radio at one point. Eyes Wide Open is in the same mould.

But two other songs are worth a mention. My Eyes, the current single, is pop bliss. When they abandon the sadness, they always do well. And a great film clip to boot. Finally, New Amsterdam, the closing track. So breezy, romantic and reminds me of listening to French records and having no idea what the singer’s on about. Just a loose collection of images, sparsely recorded, and sweet as truffles.

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t need fireworks. I need just good solid bands. Songs I can rely on. And it’s been used as a degrading term for them, but I love a reliable band.

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