Teleman Impress in Their First Visit to AmericaSeptember 26th, 2014
Teleman – Mercury Lounge – September 25, 2014
If last night’s Mercury Lounge crowd had—as English four piece Teleman suggest on “23 Floors Up”—their “conscience stuck 23 floors up,” their superegos would have been stuck on the roof of the 22-floor luxury apartment complex the Ludlow that now towers above the Houston Street venue. It would have also left nothing but unrestrained id on the ground floor, sort of an odd image for a band as methodical and fastidious as the elegant Teleman. Plunging down from towering heights through the layers and layers of Pottery Barn dwarfing the memory of the Lower East Side, the audience and band resembled a different, more generative lyric from “23 Floors Up”: “The city below is anywhere you like.”
With songs that lack a similar discernible quality, Teleman bounded through cuts off their debut LP, Breakfast, before a crowd that showed a similar level of careful enthusiasm. It was, they told the audience, their “first time in America.” The band opened with “In Your Fur” and its repeated chorus, “We’re on the strangest ride,” a subtle irony for a band that crafts such straightforward, satisfying pop songs. Emblematic of this impulse, “Skeleton Dance” and “Cristina,” a pair of tunes about different ways of getting down in the bedroom, populated the middle of the set.
Consistent, wry commentary sprang from the stage, like lead singer Thomas Sanders introducing “Cristina”: “This song is called ‘Cristina.’ It’s about a girl named Cristina from America. It’s our only tie to your country.” The blithe discourse continued on the night’s closing number, “Travel Song,” and its final, repeated promise—“I’m not in control.” This was, in part, the joke. Teleman were masterfully in command the whole time, from the roof all the way down to the ground level. —Geoff Nelson