The Trouble With Templeton - Rookie
Australian five-piece The Trouble With Templeton is the brainchild of 23-year-old Thomas Calder, who recorded a solo album in two and a half weeks back in 2011. Now he’s given flesh to his alt-folk sound with a full band (named after an episode of the US sci-fi series The Twilight Zone).
The band’s debut album proper, Rookie, is a warmly produced effort that showcases Calder’s skilled songcraft and morose vocals. His voice fits the album’s dark themes, which are predominantly concerned with sickness, whether in the lovesick sense, as on the commitment-phobic ‘Six Months in a Cast’ ("Didn't want my leg to snap so / Spent six months in a cast oh / Just to be safe") and ‘I Recorded You’, which documents an ailing, nit-picking relationship; or in the literal sense, as on ‘Flowers in Bloom’ and ‘Lint’, which are sung from the perspective of hospital and asylum patients respectively.
Occasionally, the whiff of the band’s influences linger too much: the polyrhythms and ghostly keyboards on ‘Whimpering Child’ are accomplished but evoke a less paranoid Radiohead circa OK Computer; ‘Like a Kid’ is what Muse might sound like covering ‘I Love Rock 'n' Roll’; whilst echoes of Coldplay, Turin Brakes and the rustic rock of Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver come and go.
Fortunately, Calder’s way with a melody compensates: the guitar arpeggios of ‘You Are New’ and the breezy ‘Glue’, er… stick in the memory, although it’s some of the more experimental tracks like ‘Lint’ that impress the most, building from finger-plucking folk to feedback-drenched rock.
There’s impressive depth and range here, and that sometimes makes for a somewhat less cohesive listen. But, as debut albums go, Rookie shows a promise that could see The Trouble With Templeton make a push for the big leagues.