Telegram's first album, Operator, released a few months ago is an interesting case study. A classic piece of left-field guitar Pop, had it been released a few decades back it would surely have swept all before it. It really exhibits astonishing nous, reminding me most immediately of Supergrass in terms of the way it recasts the classic sound of British Pop music that we're all so familiar with and serves it up again for a new scrum of kids to imagine this is the first time this has ever happened because it's the first time it's ever happened to them.
Some further reference points: Super Furry Animals, (singer Matt Saunders is Welsh and sings with just the required edge), Elastica and Suede's first albums, touches of the Syd Barrett Floyd, but most of all Glam, Glam and more Glam. Roxy, Sparks, Mott, Bowie and T.Rex. In addition to the Welsh thing, Saunders does a fine Bolan rasp and warble.
Twelve tracks in all and they don't put a foot wrong within that given terrain. Every decade needs at least one of these albums. So you have Electric Warrior, Hatful of Hollow, I Should Coco, Up The Bracket and now Operator. It's really that good. Not remotely original, you've heard this all before, but if I was sixteen I'd probably absolutely love it and them.
I'm more than three times that and I have to say I'm still rather partial. It's a long time since anything remotely like this has sounded so good to me. As I've said though, I think this stuff simply doesn't have the commercial purchase it once did. Aren't people just more interested in Beyonce and Kanye nowadays than a bunch of gladrags throwing shapes and wiggling their arses? Telegram are out of time. I suspect that if they'd brought this out during the prime years of Brit Pop they'd have absolutely cleaned up and could have wiled away their slow afternoons downing tequila chasers and doing lines with Damien Hirst, Alex James and Keith Allen at The Groucho's Club. Alas, or possibly not depending where you stand, these days are long gone.
The marketing and branding of the album are telling too. See the sleeve at the top of this post. It's classic retro design, you can imagine diving through a time tunnel and coming out in a record shop in 1972 to find this staring smartly at you from the front of the rack. As for the name. Telegram. It's a classic one word tag that hasn't be taken but it's hardly like calling yourself Television, Magazine or Wire in the nineteen seventies. What on earth does it really say? When was the last time you sent or received a telegram? I suspect it's in homage to T.Rex's Telegram Sam. If so, it's quite touching really to see the spell the great music of the increasingly distant past can still cast on the pop kids.
These are mere quibbles though really, Telegram have certainly got the record itself right, never mind the look. Have a look at them below looking like a bunch of extras from recently released seventies dystopian film High Rise. All power to their collective retro elbows. Back to the future!