The Telescopes have been fucking up sonic waves for a while now. This is the Brit band’s 10th album with their first release back in ’89. They’ve got deep historical roots in the musical game. You might infer from that album title that The Telescopes are some kind of thrash death metal grunge core fuck-your-face-with-my-hammer-knife kinda band. But they aren’t. They’re actually pretty chill. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When they formed back in ’86, they started off as a noise rock band. A what? You know, like white noise? I’ve heard it said that the first noise rock album ever recorded was the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat, but I’d argue that there were a few heavy rainstorms back in 2027 BCE that had it beat by a handful of millennia. In The Telescopes style, a few years later in ’91 they switched over to the shoegazing genre. The genre is called this way because when you listen to it you stare at your shoes and say, “What the fuck does it all mean?” like your shoelaces are wise string-based gods (Yes, I know this isn’t the reason. It’s just an easy way to describe this shit). Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Mercury Rev, Windy & Carl, and Spiritualized fit snuggly into this genre. The Telescopes had a big hit in ’91, they broke up in ’94, they reunited in ’96, they got into electronica in ’02. Like I said, deep fucking roots. And though they’ve always been just out of that spotlight, they’ve been influencing music for years. So, if this is your first listen of The Telescopes, be aware that you’re listening to thirty years of accumulated history. Therefore, if you hear something in there and go, “Oh! They sound just like—” stop yourself. Because unless you’re talking about something in the ’70s, early folk music, or Eric fucking Satie, it’s most likely that the rock band you’re thinking of ripped off The Telescopes.
Now, onto the album.
This is a concept album. I fucking love concept albums. So, what’s the concept to this concept album? It’s right there in the title, Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS). This name doesn’t just sound cool, it’s a real condition where a person experiences “unreal noises” when they fall asleep or wake up. Are you thinking back and wondering if you’ve ever experienced this? You probably should. It happens to around 10% of people. Ya, that’s right. This shit is as common as being left-handed. If it has happened to you, don’t worry. It’s generally not all that serious. The condition can also come with flashes of light because being human is trippy as fuuuuck! So, 10% of us get a free rave before going to sleep or waking. That shit is normal. Cool.
The Telescopes dedicated this album to the condition. Shit comes out like a muddy drone-filled psychedelic rock. There is a lead singer here. He is singing something. But I can’t understand a word. Also? I don’t really fucking care. I think it shows a lot more courage to the theme that I can’t understand a word. I’m fairly sure The Telescopes wrote an entire album worth of solid lyrics and said, “You know what? There’s no way you would actually hear lyrics if you were going through EHS. So, fuck it. Throw that shit into reverberation oblivion.”
This album is all about mood. I would categorize the mood as optimistically trippy with a hint of Texas psychedelia similar to that first season (the best) of True Detective. It’s an album of cerebral isolation and heavy eyelids. It’s the music of sitting on a couch by yourself smoking a fatty as the rest of the party goes on around you in fast-forward. This shit is sleepy heroin couch blues. And, true to form, these are some pretty unreal noises best listened to upon waking or when you’re about to go to sleep. Cause, for real? Fucking Ka-Boom.