If you enter Brilliant Sanity into a certain search engine which rhymes with ‘Dougal’ you will find listed a number of books on Buddhist approaches to Contemplative Psychotherapy. As I’m sure you are all well aware, practitioners of Contemplative Psychotherapy become experts at recognizing sanity within even the most confused and distorted states of mind. Perhaps we’ll return to this theme later in the review.
Teleman, or to give them their full title, Teleman Formed From The Ashes Of Pete And The Pirates, return with their second album as a follow up to Breakfast which was released in the halcyon days of 2014. The Pirates were your archetypal indie band, all guitars, poses and hooks you could catch a carp on. Teleman, however, have ventured further afield by underpinning their basic sound with keyboards and quasi-religious subtexts. Oh…and there’s now a fourth member just for good measure.
Teleman are an agonizingly difficult act to review, not because they defy description but because the world has already used up most of its adjectives on this genre and it’s a struggle to think of a new angle with which to approach matters without resorting to world-weary clichés. Brilliant Sanity is an expedition into the heart of pop chaos with a view to returning victorious, laden down with scrumptious, catchy melodies as their prize. But have they achieved their objective? Well…occasionaly, yes.
Album opener ‘Dusseldorf’ is one such example. Three minutes and 48 seconds showcasing everything there is to love about Teleman, driving keys, no-nonsense riffs and falsetto vocals which meld everything we loved about The Pirates with their new-found musical philosophy. The only missed step is the spoken German vocals part-way through which probably relate subliminally to adverts for Buddhist literature; it’s been a while since my German ‘O’ level.
‘Glory Hallelujah’ finds the band back on more Christian ground although the subject matter sways from the perils of stepping on spiders to Chinese burns. There’s clearly a message in there, somewhere. ‘Superglue’ is reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s ‘Float On’ in places and exerts the quality of pop tune the band has been searching for throughout the album. It’s slick, quirky and delicious. ‘Tangerine‘, surely another reference to Buddhism, kicks ass as the boys wig out a touch and deliver yet another gem before the metronomic ‘English Architecture’ soothes the mood and wins favour with the Prince of Wales.
The album concludes with the glam rock ‘Drop Out’ and the religion returns on the closing ‘Devil In My Shoe‘ which sends everyone home with a warm Ready Brek glow. When Teleman are good, they are very good. But when they are bad, they are Haircut 100. Thankfully, this is rare but if there has to be balanced criticism then the tracks on Brilliant Sanity are so well produced that they occasionally feel sterile and emotionless, only coming to life when the shackles come off and the band really rock out.
Breakfast lost it’s appeal after numerous listens but I doubt Brilliant Sanity will suffer the same fate. I may not be a contemplative psychotherapist but even I can recognise a band making sense from a confused and distorted musical universe.
Brilliant Sanity is released on April 8th on Moshi Moshi