Telyscopes’ newest project Perfume is active, nostalgic, and fervently explorative. The nine track album displays a wide range of the bands strongest characteristics a fun, eerie, and at times slightly uncomfortable listening experience. Departing vastly from the electronic, lo-fi aesthetics of Close Types, Perfume takes on a more classic vein of bedroom pop while retaining a refreshing sense of identity.
Title and opening track “Perfume/ In the Tooth” is one of the simplest songs on the album. A dreary indie track, the song depends on its variance between parts for interest, though the transitions are slightly messy. The chorus is sonically cohesive but doesn’t quite hit the way it wants to, largely because of the wash of soft falsetto singing, in a rather clunky way: “laugh in the fire and dance in the fire while the flame rises” moving around, making the lead unintelligible.
Sonically, for the most part, the album is clean, well engineered, and thoughtfully arranged. The occasional, unmistakeable trap hi-hat line tucked carefully into a few songs does sometimes feel like a stretch, but even that begins to make sense as it’s woven into the aesthetic fabric of their songs. A song in constant flux, “Turtle Two” stands out as an example of this sonic juxtaposition as a wide reaching yet familiar sounding centerpiece for the album. The climax of the song takes on an abrupt but well place turn into markedly pop territory, signaled by arpeggiators and drum machines.
The album really can’t be discussed without acknowledging the strange, glaring awkwardness of “Doctor, Why Is There Blood In My Pee?”, an unnervingly confessional song which seems an ill fitted moment of attempted comedy. Lyrics like “now I can’t hold my broken dick/to take another bloody piss” are unexpectedly tactless against an otherwise abstractly poetic album.
Lyrically, the album is cubist, making for a bit of a confusing listen. Singer and writer Jack Hubbell’s airy falsetto is confident but can feel weak at times, causing the writing to lose a bit of impact. Part surrealist, part catchy pop hooks, part fragmented stream of consciousness, Telyscopes’ writing is a perfect fit for the sonic collage of their work. One of the album’s weak points is that sense of power and command missing from the vocals, and subsequently, the role of the lyrics in each song is blurred.
Perfume is still Telyscopes’ strongest work to date. It encompasses a true sense of artistic identity and expands on it in all directions, breaking out of the well known archetypes of bedroom pop, indie, and all of the thousands of influences present on it. Their continued growth and experimentation has proven itself to be the strongest pillar of their work.
- Wide ranging influences yet cohesive sound
- Sonically excellent
- Lyrically poetic
- A few heavyhanded moments
- Blood in pee??