Scouring the pages of music reviews, certain names appear again and again. Just as Kanye West seems to crop up on every hip-hop album, Dave Sitek seems to be the name to drop in the alternative music world. 2008 was a great year for him, chiefly because of his involvement with TV On The Radio. Personally, I’m not quite convinced by the band because underneath the clever style, it’s hard to detect a heart. Sitek is now spoken in favourable terms for his production on Telepathe’s first album; an electro-pop project led by New York females Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais.
Vocally the ladies are nothing remarkable; they usually show off the kind of blank, nonchalant vocals which have been Ladytron’s stock-in-trade for the past few years, or even Bananarama for that matter. There’s far too many “oohs” and “aahs” as if Telepathe are trying too hard to sound cool and effortless and this can naturally detract from the music. Yet really the voices are a sideshow for some adventurous arrangements which owe as much to modern synth pop as the golden age of the 4AD label. This is, overall, a good album and I assume much of it is must be down to Sitek as producer.
The first highlight is the opener ‘So Fine’, which blends synth-pop with the cavernous production of early Cocteau Twins. ‘In Your Line’ sounds superb as soon as its opening jangly guitar lines and military drums kick in; the singing is also strong and for once there’s a feeling of genuine heartache within the beautiful structured song. ‘Can’t Stand It’ is the other standout; again there’s much melancholia to enjoy amongst the hypnotic walls of manicured noise and – after a slow start – ‘Trilogy’ picks up the urgency as soon as the drum and bass enters the fray.
‘Dance Mother’ is - it must be said - a clever album but beneath the intelligent, artistic veneer there’s some razor sharp hooks and that all important sense of feeling. Clearly, Sitek isn’t qute as overrated as I thought he was but credit must obviously go to Gangnes and Livaudais for what should turn out to be one of the most inventive albums of the year, even if it’s too inconsistent to be one of the best.
Ladytron, TV On The Radio