Four-piece Teleman are something of a strange proposition in 2018: an English art-pop band, formed in their early thirties, who have built up a keen fanbase and substantial critical acclaim across their last two albums without any gimmicks, just great songs.
After rising from the ashes of Reading’s underrated Pete & The Pirates in 2012, the quartet of vocalist Thomas Sanders, bassist Pete Cattermoul, synth/keys player Jonny Sanders and drummer Hiro Amamiya added metronomic Krautrock rhythms and cosmic synths to the indie-garage of their former work. Bernard Butler produced their debut, Breakfast, so it was naturally a glossy, sleek thing – yet Family Of Aliens, their third album, produced by Boxed In’s Oli Bayston, is, if anything, even more electronic. Submarine Life is driven by aquatic Vocodered vocals, while the synth-pop of Cactussounds like prime Ladytron or Hot Chip at their most relaxed. Starlight, conversely, is a loping six-minute ballad driven by woozy synths, like something from Gorillaz’s debut album, while Sea Of Winesprings from rippling piano and a vocal melody that recalls Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci or Robert Wyatt.
The band’s musical progression works throughout, though, highlighting Thomas Sanders’ wry, subdued vocals and enigmatic lyrics. “Use your imagination,” he mutters in the opening title track, and it’s almost a key to understanding his bookish lyrics. Family Of Aliens itself is a propulsive delight with an almost motorik beat, but this isn’t the Autobahn – instead Sanders is “driving along the M1… I saw the lights calling me onwards…”
Somebody’s Island looks at love and support: “I could have just left you dancing on your own/I could have just run but I didn’t know where to go…” Teleman clearly have no such problem – for those who haven’t heard them yet, it may be time to turn on and tune in.