Teleman - Brilliant Sanity
London four-piece Teleman's warm electronica-meets-post-punk second album, Brilliant Sanity, tells stories. These vignettes describe people in the shadows more than the band’s first album Breakfast, carrying a heavy burden lightly on their shoulders with a hopeful spring in their step.
The album is precisely constructed while still being a labour of love: chords were written using specifically coloured pens on a whiteboard but result in human, deeply catchy, melodies defined by: Mellotron, Roland Jupiter and Korg Trident synths, which steady Thommy Sanders’s vulnerable vocals.
Modernist cityscapes are functional and we’re reminded their concrete contains human stories by the searching lyric in 'Canvas Shoe' (“I have seen your thin legs walking through the town”). It's as close to a love song as you'll find here. Sanders’s lyrics walk us around ‘Düsseldorf’ introducing colour to the cityscape through romantic lyrics (“I love everyone that I meet tonight”) followed by a fun guitar solo but then love is again out of reach (“The girl from Düsseldorf has gone”), and ‘Glory Hallelujah’ describes urban alienation. Lyrics were written on the road travelling between and living in these points: ‘Fall in Time’ isolates Sanders’s vocals; lyrically emphasising uncertainty (“Every time I step into this place I can't stop looking for the fire place and the devil’s going to win this time”), and ‘English Architecture’ unconvincingly asserts “There’s nothing here but concrete shapes.”
It’s easy to imagine a Germanic theme: the spoken German lyrics of ‘Düsseldorf’, and the title track, musically reference Kraftwerk. But other influences soften these precision moulded forms: synth pop, video games and OMD all from the 1980s make an appearance, and many tracks open minimally but ‘Tangerine’ opens like a rock song impatient for other tracks’ later guitar solos. The band keep good company in contemporary peers Dutch Uncles and Everything Everything.
Teleman’s Brilliant Sanity’s value derives from total effect rather than single tracks, presenting a certain attitude to identity and style and gently asserting itself by swelling the heart, when during difficult times music can lift us up. Saunders notes, “A record can take itself a bit too seriously, it’s good to have a bit of a lighthearted side.” So as the opening track recommends, time to put on another our favourite songs.