Teleman: Brilliant Sanity
When featured in The Guardian 3 years ago as a band to watch, Teleman were subjected to a smirking description, perhaps rolling their eyes at another clean, intricate indie band rising to the fore.
Phrases like ‘pleasing uniformity’ and ‘neat and clipped’, along with a dogged comparison to alt- J, are perhaps a little harsh on the band that founded after the fall of Pete and the Pirates. Their response, 3 years later, comes with their second album, Brilliant Sanity – the title itself even seems to argue the side of the calm, the collected – but Teleman may just surprise one or two with what they’ve created.
At times, the whole of Brilliant Sanity feels like a loving homage to the 80s. Teleman certainly come across as a throwback of sorts – while modern pop music welcomes disco back into their arms, the London band are doing it the old fashioned way. You won’t find any dubstep influences with these Mellotron enthusiasts, whose choice of core synths was surely influenced by the producer, Dan Carey.
Opener ‘Dusseldorf’ sets the tone right from the off: swirling, insistent synths hurriedly followed by thumping computerised beats and electric guitars. Lead singer Tommy Sanders’ voice lightly touches over the top, delicately leaving a staccato imprint that’s somehow reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch. Clear comparisons must obviously be made to Kraftwerk, but the addition of guitars takes the track to quite another, messier part of the 80s – after such a precise opening, it’s great to see Teleman let their hair down.
Much of their output appears to have its roots in krautrock; the fact that the writing process is methodically structured, writing everything on a whiteboard in colour co-ordinated groups, couldn’t be less of a surprise. Indeed, it often feels like Teleman are trying to scientifically engineer the catchiest song possible – the conclusions are invariably favourable across the whole album.
The deliciously simple ‘Fall In Time’ is dictated by the opening 4-note bassline; the song admits its lack of complication in seconds, but perhaps only to show you what can be built from so little. What comes next is a selection of musical passages catchier than the one that preceded it. "I can’t afford, can’t afford not to fight" is a punchy yet wistful line surrounded by clean-cut, perfectly chosen backing.
What’s great about Teleman is their unashamed light-hearted approach. Sure, they’ve meticulously sculpted hooks to get people’s attention, but there are many little signs that show that they just "wanna have fun": The 8-bit, video-game-style opening to Melrose, the burly, uncharacteristically gruff guitars in ‘Tangerine’ and the airy, spacious beauty of closer ‘Devil In My Shoe’, which, along with the reflective ‘Canvas Shoe’, feels closest to their 2014 song ‘Lady Low’. ‘Devil In My Shoe’, however, takes itself far less seriously, and feels almost ironically anthemic.
Every track has a little something that’s a little different – there’s no second guessing here. After being cast off as yet another prim and proper intelligent-indie outfit, Brilliant Sanity is a carefully crafted and considered response – Teleman like to let loose too.
Brilliant Sanity will be released on April 8th via Moshi Moshi and Teleman are currently touring the UK.