Family of Aliens

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"It's hard when you feel twisted in a world so straight," Teleman's Thomas Sanders sings at one point on Family of Aliens, and it's a lyric that sums up the band's career remarkably well. In the wake of the acclaim they earned for Brilliant Sanity, it would have been logical for them to continue making tightly wound guitar pop anthems, or even write an album's worth of the dance-rock they pursued on the Funf EP. Instead, Teleman's third album downplays both of those sounds in favor of quiet, reflective synth pop songs about drifting to and from different places and people. It's a move that's more than a little perverse, especially since the band buries Family of Aliens' most immediate track, "Fun Destruction" (which sounds like a kissing cousin to the Brilliant Sanity single "Dusseldorf"), on the album's second half. Nevertheless, Teleman's wry outlook, winding melodies, and artful arrangements abound on moments such as the spooky yet joyful title track and the buoyant escapism of "Somebody's Island." Likewise, the band still excels at using themes and imagery in creative and satisfying ways. Teleman express Family of Aliens' concepts of isolation and belonging in a spectrum of songs that spans the bouncy, ELO-like "Between the Rain," the ominous propulsion of "Cactus," the jutting funk of "Twisted Heart," and the cloistered piano pop of "Sea of Wine." By the time "Starlight" lets the album float off on a contrail of barely audible synths, Teleman prove that following their bliss is more important to them than more predictable markers of success, and it's hard to hear Family of Aliens as anything other than a soft-spoken declaration of independence.

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