Telegraphs - Manchester Roadhouse
Telegraphs are what happens when the battering ram of rock’s physicality meets the keen-edged blade of the cerebral and the reflective. There is something beautifully desolate about what this fiery five piece do and it's dizzying to see a band so young substitute focus and thought for the stronger currencies of high jinks and plastic anger. They are five (in number, duh) and they each have a real and proper stake in the whole enterprise that would be difficult to pay back. As a unit, profoundly clear when you see them live, they function and then some. Someone on Amazon a while back, I noticed, had prefaced his 5 star review with “A rock band that doesn’t suck !” That beats even my hard-boiled cynicism but I still think they should use it somewhere down the line. T-shirts, maybe ?
Their lack of world domination to date is odd, yes, but nothing to stress over just yet. But for those of you still in the blocks I offer brief catch-up. They assembled in Brighton a few years back and last year released ‘We Were Ghosts’, a deep and blistering debut. I’m hesitating like Cliff Richard on his wedding day when it comes to offering ‘If you like this …’ options but if, say, the likes of Brand New, Paramore, Idlewild, Ash (even), bands who manage that perilous ledge between pop and rock with rare skill, do it for you, then step on up. At times, when lead singer Darcy Harrison pinpoints that luminous monochrome of backstreet heartbreak, they remind me of how Ash might have turned out had Tim Wheeler given up some of his undoubted song writing chops for a tad more gravitas. When Harrison sings “So, I took the first train I could find/They say you almost lost your mind” at the start of ‘Notes From an Exit Station’, I’m almost in awe. Telling a story is one thing, setting up an entire personal history in the first two lines of a song is something else entirely. On ‘The Argument’, where their industrious arrangements are most thrillingly apparent, and on ‘I Don’t Navigate By You’, where the trik-trak of the beat and the vocal interplay between Harrison and bassist Hattie Williams light up the potential of their cool commerciality, Telegraphs are making rock music that fascinates as much as it animates.
So, Telegraphs are a serious band but they are, have no doubt, a serious proposition. The almost non-stop gigging and what seems like, according to their (entertaining, witty) blogs, non-stop rehearsing, has seen them enter the ring at dead on fighting weight. Sam shows applaudable disdain for his sticks and couldn’t just keep beat if he tried. Darren and Aung manage the overdrive. Or it manages them. Like I say, a unit and a half. Bafflingly taking to the stage at 7pm (as support to Brigade), they scorch the air and pummel the foundations of this ever-ugly, ever-loveable basement. There are new songs and the online build-up they’ve been getting is valid – they do indeed “sound huge.” ‘So Far From Home’ rattles my fillings. There are others but names elude me. And always something else, something of real worth. Darcy, I have to say, a brooding, handsome bastard of a lead singer if ever I saw one, slips so deeply into the music, I ponder whether he’ll ever find a way out. Not for him the Bruce Dickinson school of 'let’s-be-avin’-ya' audience working. No, he finds a place in his words, the music, the moment, and simply seems to go there. By the time Telegraphs close with the metallic requiem of ‘What’s So Good About Goodbye’, he stands tall on the monitor, arching above the front row, seemingly ignorant of all around him but locked in and lost in music like this could be the last song he’ll ever sing.