The Telltales


Michael Smith, Drum Media, 22 Jul 03

“There are all kinds of pop, just as there are kinds of rock, and the kind of pop The Telltales make is definitely rooted in the softer acoustic-based pop that Paul McCartney was so capable of creating, though here, it’s the kind he would have had delivered by, say, the 60s duo Peter & Gordon in World Without Love. than his Beatles output. Except perhaps for It’s Over. That impression, at least for me, is reinforced by the gentle caress of singer songwriter Toby Roberts’ voice, which even has a hint of the eternal Cliff, without, of course, the wimp factor.

Obviously the aforementioned reference to Peter & Gordon might seem a little obscure to younger readers, but take it from me, this gentler end of the 60s pop canon and of course McCartney’s overriding impact on it is the part that was influencing Neil Finn when he was doing his Crowded House thing, pure, heartfelt pop melodies delivered without a hint of anger or angst, simple songs of love and loss, pain and freedom. perhaps it’s naive vision in these cynical times, but there’s still a place for quiet beauty, even as the bombs start falling. It’s the voice of hope, the spirit that keeps us going after all. It’s all there in Flying Juice, a little gem of a song.

The again, it’s hard to really pick one track over another in what is a beautifully balanced collection of songs, intelligently arranged, subtly performed by a quartet that knows how to hold back. So to point to the most Finn-like song in the bunch, Awaken, or the “in the spirit of” (rather inspired by) Simon & Garfunkel moment, Cornflower Girl, or the simply gorgeous solo outing of Recycled, just voice and guitar, as the high point, is to unfairly diminish other songs. This is very much a body of work, working in perfect harmony as such. And with 11 songs clocking in at just under 35 minutes, The Telltales have obviously the good sense not to overdo a good thing, leaving the listener not overloaded but wanting more.

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