Dark, Melodic Synthscapes
Despite this only being Telepathe’s second full-length release, they are a group that has been around the block a few times. Touring with artists as diverse as Julian Casablancas, Diplo and the Faint, the experimental electronic rock band from Brooklyn, NY has also released a trio of EPs and a handful of remixes of other artists. Led by Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais, the band finally returns after a six-year absence. The pair offers up 10 hard-edged, danceable and melodic tracks on Destroyer.
The album leads off with the slickly produced, darkwave influenced title track. Serving as the one of the first singles from the album, “Destroyer” has quite a bit going on in the mix. There is an aggressive electric drum-and-bass rhythm, simple yet engaging synth lines and chanted vocal work. The chorus does not have anything fancy going on, just a simple repetition of “Destroyer, Destroyer, Destroyer” underpinning the swirling synthesizers.
Meanwhile, tracks like “Drown Around Me” strongly resemble another big release from earlier in 2015, Lower Dens’ Escape from Evil. However, unlike the aforementioned Baltimore-based group, Telepathe are not afraid to take their electronic rock influences all the way back to the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Throw This Away” and “Slow Learner” are perfect examples of their preference for the dancier side of things.
“Night Spells” returns to the vintage dark post-punk sound heard on the opening track. In this instance, Telepathe keeps things a little less aggro, incorporating hauntingly echoing vocals that whisper out a soothingly appealing melody. “Hyper Ho” is an instrumental track tailor-made for late night drives in the city, and it is nicely placed to divide the two halves of Destroyer.
Telepathe’s emphasis is clearly on creating avante-garde soundscapes. There are moments, such as the choruses of “Destroyer” and “Fuck You Up,” that seem like lyrics were added as an afterthought. The lyrics are extremely simple; typically just a single chanted word or a pair of phrases repeated ad nauseum. The good news is they are never cringe-worthy or embarrassing. It’s hard to fault a band that creates such captivating instrumental sounds for not trying to lyrically emulate someone like Morrissey or Robert Smith.
Overall, Telepathe offer up a lot for their longtime fans to be excited about. The album is quite strong from front to back, with nary a weak track. The group smartly parsed the album to just 10 songs, opting to leave the filler out for B-sides, remixes or perhaps to be reworked on future releases.