Audio Mixer: Dan Carey.
If Teleman's debut album, Breakfast, found Thomas and Jonny Sanders and Pete Cattermoul branching out after their time in Pete & the Pirates, then Brilliant Sanity is all about refinement. Working with producer Dan Carey, the men of Teleman (who also include drummer Hiro Amamiya) focused Breakfast's airy pop and chugging rock into songs that are honed, but not necessarily tamed. The results are quirky yet classic-sounding English guitar pop full of a nervy essence and hooks that sneak up on listeners' ears and refuse to leave. On songs like the wonderfully insistent "Superglue," Thomas Sanders sounds equally detached and emotional as he sings about the eternal tug-of-war between freedom and constraints that defines relationships -- and pop music. "Glory Hallelujah"'s "happy ever after" feels both genuine and ironic, while "Drop Out" stealthily cuts all ties, its lengthy bridge capturing the giddy rush of escaping the gravity of commitment. A similar weightlessness animates "English Architecture"'s sweet ambivalence, "Melrose"'s levitating synths, and "Tangerine"'s psychedelic synth pop daydreams, but the sense of loss -- or something missing -- gives this drift a surprising amount of purpose. Once again, Brilliant Sanity's sharpened songwriting lets its haunting mood cut more deeply, with odd yet potent motifs (glue, shoes, flickering lights) guiding Teleman's meditations on permanence and impermanence. The times the band addresses these feelings directly make for some of the album's most affecting moments: "Düsseldorf"'s melting ice, grey towns, and disappearing girls linger in the memory longer than might be expected, while "Fall in Time"'s battle between intimacy and fear is both eerie and earnest. While Breakfast's amiable ambling is sometimes missed -- "Canvas Shoe" is the closest this album comes to it -- it's hard to deny that Teleman's hard work paid off: Brilliant Sanity's musings on uncertainty are some of their most confident songs yet. ~ Heather Phares