Telenovela’s The Broken Heart is New is an anomaly in what seems to have become a rather vapid scene. The band’s website uses the self-description, “danceable rock music that is a modern take on late 70s punk, 60s pop and garage rock, and kooky electronic music,” which is actually fairly accurate. Sounds familiar, right? Well, yeah … The difference between Telenovela and the other 8,000 bands using that descriptor is that this three-piece isn’t lost amongst a sea of retro-clad, over-makeup-ed, trendy, image-oriented crap.
Not quite distorted or angular enough to compare to Gang of Four, and not quite abstract enough to compare to Wire, The Broken Heart is New sounds something like a laid-back, suburban, cleaned-up distant relative of the two. The playing is simple and, for the most part, terse; the vocals are gloriously plaintive; and, all in all, there’s absolutely nothing at all overwhelming about the record.
This, of course, is why Telenovela’s interpretation of this set of musical musings seems to work so well. Dare I say that The Broken Heart is New is legitimately good chill music? Yes, I certainly do. That’s not to say that there’s not some material here worth of turning up on the stereo; it’s just that overall, this disc is one of the few rock records that can be appreciated through methods other than fanatical air-guitaring and hollering.
Perhaps the strangest/most interesting thing about Telenovela is this: while the obvious Wire/Gang of Four/Kraftwerk (yes, Kraftwerk!) influences shine through, the lulling female vocals give the band a distinct personality (“Metal Flowers” sounds like it could be a mechanized outtake from Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, for example). “Modulations” bounds back and forth from simple, lulling guitar leads to quietly jagged rhythm riffs, all while a pair of female vocal parts make everything sound (oddly enough) sweet like candy.
Repeated spins of The Broken Heart is New reveal a surprising amount of replay value for a sound so simple and laid-back. From the garage-dance sounds of “You Own the Neighborhood” to the simple, fried guitar tones of “Ice Bears,” Telenovela’s got quite a sleeper recording under its belt here; recommended for patient listeners.