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Tellison – The Wages of Fear

Tellison, The Wages of Fear

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

TELLISON are hardly prolific but they do possess a likeability that makes any new release worth listening to.

Formed in London in 2003, they delivered their debut album, Contact! Contact! in 2007 and it’s taken almost another four years for them to deliver their sophomore one… The Wages of Fear.

Produced by Peter Miles (Frank Turner, The King Blues), it’s a solid collection of pop-rock songs that flit between powerful future stadium fillers and more melodic pop-rock offerings.

Sometimes they appear work-manlike, at others they aspire to the easy populist appeal of Hard-Fi or even Bell X1. But even when songs don’t blow you away, there’s something endearing about them.

Collarbone, for instance, pretty much encapsulates this varied approach: powerful guitar riffs jostling for position with breezy backing harmonies and a lively chorus. And yet it’s the sound of the band at their most ‘average’.

For it’s no small compliment to write that Tellison can sometimes genuinely catch you off-guard with a really surprising moment that should broaden their appeal massively. One of these is the utterly disarming Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart, an indie ballad of sorts devoted to a sexy French dentist.

It’s tenderly delivered, witty and delivered in the same kind of subversive style that makes Bell X1’s song-writing so endearing – witness lines like: “She said please take care of your teeth and I say to her please take care of my heart, cos my teeth are breaking but my heart is aching for you.” It’s an easy album favourite.

Likewise, the more low-key Tell It To Thebes, which contains a flitting guitar riff and some subtle beats, as well as another strong set of lyrics. The chorus, meanwhile, drops a rousing vocal from Stephen Davidson and a muscular riff that marks a nice temp change. It keeps the listener much more alert than some of the more ordinary material that they seem to prefer.

Not that the last sentence was meant as a major criticism… when rocking their socks off and belting their less adventurous songs out, there’s still a keen sense of energy and melody that keeps them likeable (Know Thy Foe, Rapture and Edith stand out).

But had they delivered one or two more moments to genuinely make you sit up, take notice and re-evaluate what you think they’re all about, then we could really have been singing their praises.

As things stand, The Wages of Fear is a good enough album to leave you hoping that it won’t be as long between this and their third album.

Download picks: Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart, Tell It To Thebes, Know Thy Foe, Rapture

Track listing:

  1. Get On
  2. Say Silence (Heaven & Earth)
  3. Know Thy Foe
  4. Collarbone
  5. Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart
  6. Horses
  7. Rapture
  8. Tell It To Thebes
  9. Letters From Pre-Med
  10. Vermont
  11. Edith
  12. My Wife’s Grave Is In Paris