Straddling a few blurred lines between shoegaze and Britpop, The Telescopes’ second and, arguably, definitive record finds some distinct subtleties in both genres. Their debut went in heavy for the distortion obsessed brand of shoegaze that beget Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and their disciples on down. They certainly had all the hallmarks, from a debut split single with fellow noise sculptors Loop, to the blurred and obscured cover art on their debut. However, they broke with the sound leading into their second album, starting with a string of EPs that saw them signed on to Alan McGee’s growing powerhouse at Creation. Following the “Celeste” EP, which found their sound balancing between the spacey acoustic shuffle of Spacemen 3 and the yearning plateaus of Ride, they issued their Eponymous LP, which sold them into the hearts of shoegaze collector’s wholesale.
The record would, sadly, also prove to be their undoing. Shortly after they recorded and released it, the band also contributed to a tribute compilation dedicated to The Who and that would be the last recording they’d issue, citing creative differences, with members going their separate ways. The band would resurface years later mostly under the direction of singer/guitarist Stephen Lawrie, with some original members popping in and out, though mostly he’d gather a new group of players each time the name was resurrected. In as much, this remains the last true Telescopes album and an essential piece of psych, shoegaze and British rock in general. The first American issues to pop up on Bomp in the early ’00s used an alternate cover workup, that traded in the joyously messy, and to be honest tellingly ’90s, cover artwork for a more austere setup. Thankfully this new issue on Radiation rights those wrongs and brings back the original art alongside the stellar sound. If this one isn’t in your collection, the time is now.
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