Tellison - Contact! Contact! (5th Anniversary Edition) Album Review
Five years after their infectious debut album, Tellison are practically a household name and Banquet (records) favourites with now more than just a cult following and to celebrate where it all began they've given us an anniversary issue of their instant classic Contact! Contact!
The London four piece are unrivalled when it comes to writing insidiously fun guitar pop and singer Stephen Davidson's poised British enunciation is only further accented by the impeccably tight instrumentals from Henry Danowski (drums), Peter Phillips (guitar), and Andrew Tickell on bass. Right from day one, Tellison have been one of the tightest bands around and this confidence is what's always been so charming about them, tracks like 'New York New York New York' which dizzily flip between electro sampling and a traditional pop-rock sound are so self-assured you can't help but get involved.
Check your coat and dignity at the door before listening to this record because it will leave you not just hot and bothered, but screaming every word as if it's just been branded onto you. There's not really a track out of these 14 (including two bonus songs) that doesn't have a blitz of a chorus even if it's just the word "Disaster" on a loop; they must be some of the finest writers this country has seen in years. Davidson's lyrics roll off the tongue in eager anticipation of finding what it is he's so desperately searching for in the emotionally electric world in which he lives: "And this view of your back is worth something more than that, there is a picture of this victory in every wartime gallery." Their formula is beyond amazing with every element down to the delightfully lush backing vocals considered with due care and attention, meaning that it never becomes formulaic; rather it becomes instantly recognisable as Tellison. Stephen Davidson's voice is as smooth as honey as he peppers his songs with references to literary figures such as John Keats, band members and friends like Henry, or even his music: "And seriously I hate my work, but someone's got to do it, though the poetry is lost on me," he croons on the uncharacteristically down tempo 'Hospital'.
While lyrically and vocally Tellison are on form, there is of course the music itself to be considered and, as you might have gathered, it's bloody brilliant. Danowski is at an unfair advantage having had training as a jazz drummer, it's a fairly niche field as you might expect, though he doesn't let that box him in and he proves that drummers don't always keep rhythm as he commands his kit with expertly pummelled precision. Contact! Contact! is them in 2007, that's five years ago, they still all had day jobs and this is a record that's slightly lacking in production quality, you can hear the rawness on opener 'Hanover Start Clapping' yet it doesn't take anything away from their vision. They sound immediate as their energy brims over the edge of their electro flourishes and endearingly crass shoutyness ('Reader'), but by the time 'Gallery' is finished blowing your brains with its raucous instrumental pile-up, you'll be proclaiming them your new favourite band-again. Every teenager who starts a band only dreams of sounding like this.
These are the sorts of songs that make you wince with excitement every time you hear them and brim with annoyance at just how good they are, if you can listen to 'Henry Went To Paris' without feeling that or not think that 'Amory' with its chorus of: "Don't be so obvious, don't be so. Amory," is one of the most perfect pop songs ever then please contact me because I need to slap you in the face.
While it doesn't offer too much in the way of extras for a fifth anniversary edition, when the original is this perfect you really don't need extras; this is 45 minutes of escapism. It's bleak, it's uplifting, charming, catchy, iridescent. This is the mundane made extraordinary and ensured Tellison a place amongst the ones to watch. After The Wages Of Fear last year they proved they're on their way to adulthood with a cheeky sense of adolescent melody still intact and we can surely expect great things from the quartet in the future.
Contact! Contact! has everything you could want from a pop record, it's rammed with hooks and hit singles in the form of 'Gallery' and 'Disaster! Disaster!' but it's also not afraid of the mellow tenderness that comes along with ripping out your beating heart ('Fire', 'Architects') for these reasons and many more this is a record that easily deserves a place amongst the greatest debuts of all time.
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