After releasing two well-received singles, Teleman have arrived with their debut full length LP, Breakfast. Formed by ex-members of Pete and the Pirates, the band found their fanbase grow quickly after sets at 2013’s Glastonbury and Latitude festivals. With Breakfast’s penchant for minimalism and primitive synth-scapes that drive the songs, much of the press surrounding the album has made reference to Kraftwerk and other early krautrock acts. While not musically dissimilar (there are definite motorik influences at play in almost every song), even the band’s imagery has nods to their kraut-influenced forefathers: deadpan gazes beyond the camera, button down shirts, and ‘serious’ expressions.
Perhaps the best representation of the diversity of Teleman’s songwriting comes on the album’s second track, “In Your Fur”. Gritty, overdriven guitars are juxtaposed by a dry keyboard melody, and singer Thomas Sanders’ vocals. The song highlights what is unquestionably the most impressive thing about Breakfast: Teleman’s ability to make so few tracks sound so big and immersive. Not since Spoon’s Kill The Moonlight has rock minimalism sounded this good, and in a world of unlimited tracks, it’s refreshing to hear a band pair it down to four or five. Rather than focusing on a particular sound or production style, Teleman have managed to zone in on what really matters: strong melodies.
The album’s opening track “Cristina” begins with a brief keyboard drone, before Sanders enters with a sparse, descending vocal melody: “I’m coming back to where I started, I never meant to be the bad kid, the feeling came in uninvited, where is everybody hiding?”. On paper, most of Breakfast’s lyrics seem overly ambiguous, but they match the music surprisingly well. In a recent interview, Sanders revealed his love for “double-meaning or other interpretations”, and his music and lyrics certainly have the potential to evoke a positive or negative headspace if listened to at different times.
The end of 2013 saw Teleman supporting seasoned groups like Suede, Franz Ferdinand, and Maximo Park. While these opening slots are often worn as a badge of honour for similar up-and-comers, there is a lot more at play in Teleman’s music than the endless buzz groups that pop up on a daily basis.