At one point, Telepathe were a buzzed-about then-unknown Brooklyn noise-pop duo consisting of Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais (of the even more unknown Wikkid). Then people who weren’t their friends or in similar outfits saw them, and Telepathe got the reputation as “the most boring band in Brooklyn”, with a much-derided live performance at South Street Seaport (QRO venue review) last year sealing the deal (when are people going to figure out that light show-less electronica doesn’t play well outdoors?). Yet the duo, now with guitarist Ryan Lucero, has been able to stay one step ahead of their live reputation, somehow getting people in the run-up to this year’s South-by-Southwest (QRO recap) to think that they’re going to be ‘the next MGMT’ (QRO live review), and now managing to put out a full-length, Dance Mother. Not as bad as having to watch them, on record Telepathe can at least sink into the background, but they’re as inessential as elevator music.
Attempting to draw from both indietronica and disco-dance, Telepathe manage to get the worst of both worlds: self-consciously artsy and inaccessible, Dance Mother is also simplistic keyboard electronica (despite being produced by Dave Sitek of TV On the Radio – QRO live review). Some tracks are unobjectionable and unmemorable, like openers “So Fine” and “Chrome’s On It”, or “Michael” nearer the end. Telepathe’s attempts at something more are mostly just utterly forgettable, like the stab at atmosphere “In Your Line” (the listener can be forgiven for forgetting that that the piece is still on), grand-stab “Can’t Stand It”, or not-big ‘big finish’ closer “Drugged”, with only “Trilogy: Breath of Life, Crimes and Killings, Threads and Knives” being a little more interesting. A little. And then there’s the cheesy over-synth “Devil’s Trident”, which sounds like it came from some bad, forgotten eighties movie’s vision of the near-future (a knock-off of a knock-off of a knock-off that gave a bad name to Bladerunner), or the supposed to be haunting, but is really just embarrassing, staccato of “Lights Go Down”.
Say this for Telepathe: they’re not downright un-listenable, like often-compared contemporaries Gang Gang Dance (QRO photos) or Effi Briest (QRO photos) – is it sexism or reverse-sexism when many bad experimental bands from Brooklyn, which are fronted by ‘striking’ women (not ‘attractive’, mind you – just females who’d stand out in a crowd without earning gasps or envy), get wildly overrated? Instead, without their dull presence, Dance Mother is just not much at all.
MP3 Stream: "Chrome’s On It"