Music

Telepathe: Destroyer

"Tonight we dine in hell!" Brooklyn duo on rampage after four-year incarceration!


Telepathe

Destroyer

Label: BZML
US Release Date: 2015-08-07
UK Release Date: 2015-08-07
Website
Amazon
iTunes

The front cover of Brooklyn duo Telepathe's second record Destroyer has "FUCK YOU" scrawled across its artwork. In capital letters. Someone – possibly their agent – has tried to partially cross out the "FUCK" but they've failed miserably. It still clearly says "FUCK YOU". Perhaps Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais have good reason to be so, er, frank. The first single from this follow-up to 2009's frisky debut Dance Mother (originally titled Dance Mother Fucker, no less) was released four years ago. Other singles escaped over the years but despite patronage from tastemakers like Dave Sitek, Julian Casablancas and Trent Reznor, Destroyer itself remained chained up in pop's dungeon, "delayed by industry and label politics". Until now. Heads will surely roll...

It's a surprise then that Destroyer doesn't sound like a blistering hurricane of vitriol and venom. It's actually a sincere, romantic and positive pop record. It doesn't sound like it just awoke from a four-year induced coma either. No. More like a thirty-year one. Destroyer dances like a revived '85 with one sparkly heel in NYC's Danceteria and one in Manchester's Haçienda and it sings, uncannily, like a youthful Kim Wilde. The punkish posturing and hip-hop hipsterisms of Dance Mother have been dialled down in favour of melody, harmonies and a more consistent, glossier sheen. Oh, but Telepathe are still obsessed with clattering, punchy drum machines. You'd better like drum machines. They're everywhere. "You can never have enough drum tracks" is basically Telepathe's motto.

The titular introduction is actually about as rowdy as Destroyer gets. The defiant stomp of a Robocop Ladytron with a hammering, Carpe Diem cry, "I'm marching off to war! Destroyer! Destroyer!" A rising tide of eye shadow and spraypaint backed by muscular, metallic, machine gun percussion. It's easy to see why it triggered Reznor's alarms back in 2011. A convincing first hit but the cool summer breeze of "Drown Around Me" clean knocks it out of the park. The sensual sweep of warmly anaesthetised analogue synths sparkling over a slow glowing bassline and soft focus disco rhythms. Stretched out in surrender, all blissful rapture beneath the sun, "I scream for you / Capsize me too." It charms and caresses like the ever suave "Hey Little Girl" by Icehouse and rollerskates away with an ecstatic, low growlin' "Owwww". A beatific beauty and Destroyer's true treasure.

If the rest of Destroyer doesn't quite hold the intoxicating allure of "Drown Around Me" it remains pleasurable nonetheless. "Slow Learner" is proper old school, dry ice Europop right down to its pastel fingerless gloves, big bangles, legwarmers and lace. "Shy I am around you", it flutters like a coquettish Yoda before spinning cryptic crystal visions about "An island filled with wood and corpses" and "The opera of illusion". Be warned, Telepathe aren't shy of sharing fanciful (i.e. batshit crazy) imagery but, hey, that's part of the appeal.

On the fizzy, pogo pop of "Onyx" -- a cocktail shakermaker of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" and Propaganda's "Dr. Mabuse" -- they seemingly suggest "Endless images... castrate the night time!" They definitely declare "We worship the grave" though before diving headfirst into a sea of glitchy, Space Invader n' street riot samples. Elsewhere 2011's "Throw Away This" still reassuringly throws down like Exposé's block party anthem "Point of No Return" before recent single (2015!) "Night’s Spell" unveils the pining neon heart of Destroyer. "We are destiny / I'm under / You got me". The closest we get to a ballad, it stands sighing on the balcony, crushed by Cupid's curse but begging for more. There are lots and lots of drum machines on that balcony too, obviously.

This being the '80s there are unsurprisingly a few fashion faux pas. The Italo-ish "Damaged Raid" takes Telepathe's penchant for classic Europap one slice of fromage too far. The cacophony of drum crashes become Biblically melodramatic and there's a gigglesome Greek chorus for the harmonies. The lyrics too are delivered with tee-hee theatrical aplomb, "Imagery thrown around.... corpses" ,"Abandoned!... Animal!... Protected!... Slain!...." It could be a Saturday Night Live rip of your archetypal pretentious synth duo.

"Someone Is Home" similarly packs all the prerequisite pounding percussion, shoulder pads and Blue Steel pouting but seems somewhat hollow. It does end with an amusing comedy cackle worthy of the Joker himself though so it's not completely without merit. It's hard to bear any grudge though when Telepathe close the party by forming a conga line towards the exit with the charmingly titled "Fuck You Up". Ever the tricksters it sounds more like a boozy Little Boots on a Hen night than Manowar. It's so jolly and infectious that when they chant "Burn it down! I wanna! Fuck you up! I Wanna!" it all seems, well, like a perfectly reasonable request.

Destroyer may've turned up fashionably late but it doesn't outstay its welcome. Even though some troublemakin' tearaway has selfishly scribbled "FUCK YOU" across it, Telepathe's second born is actually an agreeable, approachable sort which should mix well with others. As for being an actual "Destroyer", it probably won't incite revolutionary rumpus across the wider Popworld but it's still plenty strong enough to break a few hearts.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Music

Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.

Music

Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.