Refractions

Like millions of other British people, I’ve been looking forward to the new album by The Telescopes, and was delighted when early copies were sent out from Germany this week.

I was rather wary of the dull-sounding title – Songs Of Love And Revolution – since “Songs Of X” is never a formula that inspires confidence, and “songs” are only part of what Telescopes albums usually offer. As for “revolution”, the last time I saw them playing was in The Shacklewell on the night of the 2019 General Election and I didn’t feel the wash of feedback around the speakers would have been enhanced if the messages I’d seen on my phone after 10pm had suggested a Corbyn landslide instead.

There are 8 tracks and an extra 9th one, described on the sleeve thus:

The sound of this album is a basic pulsing rock, enshrouded in smoke and fuzz, with slightly less of the comparative sharpness on 2019’s Exploding Head Syndrome. Some of the titles read like shoegazing-by-numbers stuff from exactly 30 years ago (“Mesmerised” is nearly the same as a Chapterhouse single, though the sound is a slow cascading lament). There are bursts of manic energy in “Strange Waves” and the excellent “We See Magic And We Are Neutral, Unnecessary”. At other times the album slows down to the inertia of depression. “You’re Never Alone With Despair” is in fact a blues guitar workout, drastically decelerated and submerged, the sound of music heard deep inside catatonia. “This Train” seems briefly to be a radical dismantling of the trad. arr. “This Train Is Bound For Glory” but we never get on the ride, as the rhythm of the turning wheels just thumps along, and then carries us through the title track.

I do not know if the Denis Edwards referred to on the sleeve is the Catholic theologian who passed away in 2019, author of “The Attractor And The Energy Of Love”. That would be a great title for the next album. The picture at the top is of course from Newton’s Opticks.

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