12 Memories is the fourth studio album from Scottishalternative rock band Travis. The album was released on 11 October 2003 on Epic Records. In comparison, the album is a much more mature and lyrically darker album, focusing on issues such as the 2003 Iraq invasion, politicians, psychological crisis and domestic abuse.
Musically, 12 Memories has embraced use of distorted guitars and a more electronic, rockier and even trip hop style. Three singles were released from the album - "Re-Offender", a track that deals with domestic abuse, "The Beautiful Occupation", a song which was inspired by the invasion of Iraq by US and coalition forces in 2003, and "Love Will Come Through", a more traditional Travis song, which was later featured in a marketing campaign by the Post Office. The album entered the UK charts at #3. "The Beautiful Occupation" was their first single to miss the top 40, charting at #48, though the following single, the fan favourite "Love Will Come Through", only fared slightly better, charting at #28. Whilst being titled 12 Memories, there are only eleven tracks on the album, each one of these a "memory". The "12th memory" is actually a hidden track entitled "Some Sad Song" which plays after silence following the last track. The album cover is somewhat similar to the album covers for The Beatles's Let it Be and U2's Pop.
This is the only Travis album without their logo on the album cover. However, their logo can be seen from the album cover, as the visible part of the rear back cover, the Travis logo can be found. The rear back cover is also similar to the cover of "Re-Offender", the lead single. As the album does not display the title on the cover either, a sticker is featured on the case which says the title of the album. Also, a Parental Guidance logo is featured as a sticker on the case.
Travis drummer Neil Primrose suffered a severe spinal injury in a swimming pool accident in July 2002. The band were forced to take six months off during his recuperation before regrouping. Moving into a cottage on the island of Mull they set up a small studio, and over two weeks, came up with nine new songs that would form the basis of 12 Memories. Produced by Travis themselves, Tchad Blake, and Steve Orchard, the album marked a move into more organic, moody and political territory for the band. Although this seems to have alienated some fans, the album generally received very positive reviews (for example, "Then, of course, there's Travis and their album 12 Memories [Epic]. You just have to sit there and listen to it all the way through, and it will take you on a real journey. It's like an old album. It's like the Beatles' Revolver . Fran Healy's voice and lyrics are mesmerizing and beautiful" — Elton John), singles such as "Re-Offender" did very well on the British charts, and the album itself reached No. 3. Yet it also saw them lose ground in the U.S., where Coldplay had usurped Travis during their 2002 absence. Much later, Fran Healy spoke about the album as a whole being about him working through his own clinical depression, and the twelve memories being twelve reasons for him reaching his depressed state. At the time this wasn't mentioned, but the revelation that Healy was depressed ties in with the band's decision to take longer writing and releasing their next work.
12 Memories received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 64 based on 22 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".