Album Reviews

Teleman – Brilliant Sanity

(Moshi Moshi) UK release date: 8 April 2016

Teleman - Brilliant Sanity 2014 saw the return of Reading’s Pete And The Pirates, albeit in a different guise, this time under the moniker of Teleman, a name taken from an 18th century German composer. The Bernard Butler produced debut album, Breakfast, was a solid first step filled with infectious poppy numbers. Admittedly, the songs could potentially grate after excessive plays but, in moderation, they were a lot of fun and easily digested, even if one cut – Lady Low – did horrifyingly recall Orville’s Song by Keith Harris and his cutesy green duck. Shudder.

There was a firm tongue-in-cheek aura about the band throughout Breakfast, whether intentional or not, in the same way that outfits like Devo and Sparks could have drawn similar comments back in the 1970s and ’80s. This ‘ability’ is retained for second album Brilliant Sanity, but Butler is not; instead of the ex-Suede guitarist, Dan Carey (Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip, Nick Mulvey) takes the chair.

According to the band, now a quartet, they have been fine-tuning the “process of crafting the immaculate pop song” and also been in “the dogged pursuit of the perfect hook”. Single and album opener Düsseldorf would appear to support this fact wholeheartedly. A bouncy rhythm and trademark spiky vocals from Tommy Sanders, along with guitars – an instrument largely overlooked for the debut despite its producer – create a great little instantly catchy cut that’s comfortably one of the album’s biggest highlights, the underpinning guitar chords being particularly enjoyable.

Four moodily descending piano notes kick off Fall In Time, another impressive effort that capitalises on the minimalist side of the band that occasionally appeared on Breakfast, but it’s the melodies that win over the listener. So, two tracks in and things look rather rosy indeed.

Unfortunately though, the best has already come and gone. That’s not to say the rest of the album is poor, or even just average, but it largely lacks the joyous warmth of the opening two numbers. Drop Out eventually raises the bar again at track 10, its ominous sounding underbelly being its greatest asset, but what occurs up to that point is indifferent.

The title track represents more minimalism and ticks along pleasantly without raising the roof, whilst the much slower and complete detour Canvas Shoe utilises a rueful guitar line, yet sounds more like Gilbert O’Sullivan than something interesting. Glory Hallelujah fares a lot better and with a little twist of the imagination could be comparable to Arcade Fire, although the repeated song title towards its conclusion does wear thin; it’s probably not the kind of song you’d want to sing along to in the car with the window wound down, although if that’s your bag then rather Glory Hallelujah than, say, Glory Hole though, yes?

Superglue sludges along almost as if the drumsticks are sticking after every strike but Tangerine is more juicy, its lengthy instrumental intro sounding almost Oriental while the slower sullen keyboard trudge of Melrose offers another diversion, its chorus soaring above the rest of its parts considerably.

In the couple of years since Breakfast, it appears Teleman are rather standing still, the lack of progression perhaps suggesting a more apt, alternative album title of Brunch, being quite close in comparison to the debut. In their search for pop perfection though, they do actually hit the mark a couple of times; it’s just a shame that the best moments mostly appear at the album’s commencement because they far outweigh the vast majority of what follows, meaning you could be tempted to drift off in conversation before the album’s conclusion or, worse still, fall asleep.

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Teleman @ Chalk, Brighton
Teleman – Brilliant Sanity