The Telescopes


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The Telescopes' first album, 1989’s Taste, gives few clues to the transcendent dream pop group they would become after switching record labels (from What Goes On to Creation) and trading in their ugly distortion pedals for a raft of more esoteric effects. Mostly, the album pairs the angry guitar-heavy noise of the American indie rock scene of the time with an angst-filled, very JAMC-inspired toughness. Just looking at the titles tells you where their heads were at the time: “Violence,” “I Fall, She Screams,” “Suicide,” “Anticipating Nowhere.” This is ugly, uncompromising music for the most part -- at times interestingly so, but more often feeling a little forced and by the numbers. Both the clichéd song structures and the over the top sneer in Stephen Lawrie's vocals can be too much, dragging a lot of the album down to mediocrity. Those few moments that hint at the future are the best moments on the album. The sweetly sung ballad “And Let Me Drift Away” that starts off the album, the slowly building drone of “The Perfect Needle” (the best song here), the drifty verses that give way to screaming choruses on “Oil Seed Rape” -- these are the clues that there is more to the band than just by-the-book noisemaking. Taste sounds like the record they had to make to get their adolescent angst out of the way before they could get down to the much more rewarding business of exploring sound and more refined emotion, as they began to do on the 1990 single Everso.

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