Music Reviews

Teleman Breakfast

(Moshi Moshi) Rating - 6/10

When Reading’s Pete And The Pirates split in 2012 it wasn’t exactly greeted with hordes of near suicidal fans mourning the end of an era. The band had never quite made an impression in a market saturated with similar, run of the mill average indie guitar bands, but 2014 marks a return for three of the ex-pirates as they team up again for new act Teleman, now based in London.

And they’ve already made far more of an impression than when in their previous guise, support slots for big indie acts such as Maximo Park, Franz Ferdinand and Suede bringing them to the attention of many as did 2013 festival appearances at both Glastonbury and Latitude. Indeed, it is ex-Suede guitar maestro Bernard Butler – hailed as a revelation by the band – on production duties for Breakfast and with such a legendary guitarist twiddling knobs it’s somewhat of a surprise that the guitar takes such a back seat for the debut, with preference given to gentle poppy synths. Butler’s presence came at a (modest) cost but the fees, along with studio outlays, were handily covered by the Momentum Music Fund, grants between 5k and 15k handed out under the Performing Rights Society for Music Foundation banner.

The first track to appear was single and album opener Cristina; it’s a catchy, Beach Boys’ like minimal affair, the backing synths are almost skeletal as is the percussion, with Tom Sanders’ high pitched (note, not falsetto) vocals a dreamy accompaniment. The song has enjoyed airplay on radio stations XFM, BBC 6Music and also Radio 1 – no mean feat – as has another single Steam Train Girl: set to a subtle motorik beat with percussion steam ‘puffs’, a lightly fuzzy guitar riff appears before a delicate chorus floats above. After a few plays both these singles find a way of worming themselves into your brain, almost becoming addictive.

23 Floors Up is another poppy, irritatingly catchy effort set to more minimalism, its cheesy synth backing sounding reedy and basic while the strummed guitar, arpeggiated synth bleeps and Sanders’ vocal delivery that recalls Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley all add up to something that sounds not too unlike Julian Lennon's Too Late For Goodbyes from 1984 for In Your Fur. The sprightly, poppy bounce of Skeleton Dance makes for a mid album highlight, its annoyingly catchy chorus guaranteed to have happy sorts skipping round the room like a spring lamb. Mainline, though, is perhaps the black sheep of the family, opening to a heavy guitar fuzz and making as much of an effort to reach a rockier moment than anywhere else on the album.

But just as you’re starting to warm to this collection Lady Low appears. It’s OK, but something sounds vaguely familiar. After minutes of wondering it suddenly dawns on you…OMG you cry…it can’t be…ghastly memories from your childhood come gushing back, it’’’s NOOO it’s Keith Harris and bloody Orville! The little green duck! American listeners enjoy, but Brits beware, it’s too close to Orville’s Song for comfort. Shame, as the saxophone towards the end of the track was brilliant, too.

After average album closer Travel Song has finished in familiar fashion, we’re treated to a hidden track that’s actually about as hidden as a fart in a lift, Not In Control. It’s unlike the rest of the album, tagged on at the end like an afterthought. But it’s also arguably the best effort here: a minimal motorik beat and monotone vocals that are a little in the vein of Fujiya & Miyagi without the hushed vocals; it’s a great cut but one that would probably flourish in more similar surroundings.

So repeated listens are definitely worth the effort, easy as it may be to discard Breakfast in the bin without fully ingesting. One or two irritations apart, Teleman have created something on a shoestring budget that intrigues enough to demand attention; there’s a way to go before they explode but Breakfast certainly represents a solid start.