Sunday, October 14, 2018

Teleman - Family Of Aliens - Fragile electro-pop with a hint of vaudeville

I was invited to see Teleman first by a friend (stand up James King) who was always on the look out for fun things to do in Brighton. The first time I saw them was at the Old Market in central Hove and I was surprised by how much I liked them. Their music is a very light-weight form of pop that is so fragile in its construction that you almost think it might break at any moment. In fact, during my friend’s favourite tune – Christina – it actually does stop, and you are momentarily wondering if it will start again. Having said that, each tune was beautiful, melodic and just a bit different, which left me wanting more.

 My personal favourite at that point was a euro-friendly number called Düsseldorf, featuring genuine German translation at one point. Its more robust sound and indeed the generally more beefed up nature of their second album hinted at more electro-rock-esque possibilities for the future, in their third album – Family Of Aliens – this duly arrived.

Family Of Aliens is, not unnaturally, how the band see themselves, and perhaps having realised that's who they are, they certainly sound more confident and at home with their sound on this record. The keyboards and electro-pop component is ramped up, and often builds up into joyous extended instrumental sections (Submarine Life, Cactus) that verge on the edges of modern dance music. This is a record crying out for extended 12” remixes if that is still a thing.

At points they are so electro-pop on this disk that you could almost imagine this was how the Pet Shop Boys would sound if one of them played electric guitar. Song For A Seagull falls into this category, a tune that invokes the loneliness of a sea bird whilst simultaneously being up-beat and joyous. Indeed it’s when these elements are combined that Teleman are at their best. I find their music both uplifting and heart-breaking, the latter aided by singer Thomas Sanders unusually tremulous vocals. After all a band that can be both life-affirming and melancholic in the same song, pretty much has something for everyone who loves pop music.

The new found knees-up pomp hits its highest mark with the, practically Madness/Supergrass-esque duo of Twisted Heart and Between The Rain, but fret ye not, the fragility is still there too. Always Dreaming starts with a slow monophonic piano refrain and the next instrument to join sounds like an acoustic bass, it’s the perfect tune to accompany a wallow in misery, should you be so inclined.

Overall then, I have to say it’s a beautiful thing. Certainly their most confident, balanced and exciting record to date. Nothing stands out and that’s very much in it’s favour, it’s all excellent and a pleasure to listen to from end to end. In fact, I may even be inclined to get a vinyl copy, if they exist, as sonically it’s so varied that it would be a good match to the musicality of needle, amplifier and speaker.

I was once told that in the perfect photograph the darkest area will be 100% black and the lightest area pure white, that is to say the unexposed, pure white of the photographic paper – and I’ve always thought that a similar analogy should apply to music, that is to say that the loudest part of any record (or live set) should be the loudest noise you can manage, and the quietest bit should be silence. With this record, I think Teleman have cracked it. It’s the perfect picture, onto which you can project the best and worst moments of your life and revel in them both. It will be played on repeat in a thousand teenage bedrooms and, although mainstream radio might not pick it up, it is surely a pop classic that will simply grow in stature over time.

Personally, I love it, and I’m already excited to see what they conjure up next.

P.S.  There is no such thing as a seagull

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