“Dropped the ‘Rodeo’ I dodged the bull like ole” Scott raps on one of the early standout tracks on ‘Mcknight’, a fitting line as now he is getting adjusted to stardom after years of hard work, dedication and ‘bull’. ‘Rodeo’, Travis’ 2015 debut album, plays as an autobiographical journey from rags to riches heavily influenced by the pressures and plight of any enduring up and coming independent artist. Most artists debut albums play as a catharsis of their complete life journey up until that point, and then the sophomore release displays only the emotions and trials in the time between. ‘Rodeo’ was a young Scott trying to make it in the world, a picture of his fears, goals, failures and triumphs up until actually fulfilling his dreams. ‘Birds’ finds itself in a strange place, the angst and frustration that lead to Travis’ socially awkward but sonically and artistically phenomenal product has subsided due to his success.
Scott’s pop sensibilities however remain sharp as ever, the diversity in sonic pallets has constricted but he pinpoints on the natural catchiness previously displayed on his debut and zeros in on the dark ominous anti-song-sound that has become his staple. Melodies are made mostly by repetition of ambient sounds and distorted basslines with bent 808 kicks, all with Scott’s keen, and evolved, sense of song structure and choruses. ‘SDP interlude’ is a prime example, here he sheds all other song elements simply for a hypnotic hook which hovers over a minimal synth bassline and a looped vocal sample. Ironically Scott admits to not doing any hard drugs and rarely drinking or even smoking, he regardless is able to tap into the current ethos and nail the vibe and mind state of the masses, one of the only traits that carried over into ‘Mcknight’ from ‘Rodeo’.
‘Birds’ boast a strong line up of guest stars, still eclectic Scott gives us an Andre 3000 feature along side the likes of Hip Hop newcomers Bryson Tiller and 21 Savage a range most artists could not successfully pull off. ‘Goosebumps’ features a song structure that’s only strange once read on paper, choruses and verses blend together to create an intoxicating track that’s only amplified once heavy weight Kendrick Lamar appears. ‘Pick Up The Phone’ and ‘Way Back’ also feature Scott’s signature expanded sound with extra instrumentation added and minimalist solos subtlety take the listener to new heights during both songs outros. Rightfully so none of the tracks list the featured artists (except ‘Phone’ with Young Thug) as Travis explains that he looks at each guest verse as a sample rather than a feature, just another element he adds to his music like the live instrumentation hes known for on the production side. In comparison to ‘Rodeo’ ‘McKnight’ lacks wide content and a diverse sonic landscape but it makes up for these changes with a more focused sound and a more honed game plan: Get The Vibe Right, and as Scott says “they can’t kill the vibe it’s immortal”