The Telescopes – # Untitled Second

The Telescopes - # Untitled Second

The Telescopes - # Untitled Second

# Untitled Second, originally released on Creation way back in 1992 and here reissued by Bomp! Records as both CD and limited edition white vinyl , marks the first Stateside release of the oft-forgotten dream-pop groups’  second full-length. Bomp!’s treatment sees the record get snazzy new packaging (displayed in the image to the left) and three bonus tracks. But, when it wasn’t available but to the most dedicated of record shoppers, what do extras matter, anyway?

Though this is The Telescopes‘ second LP, a handful of EPs still lie between it and Taste, their ’89 debut record. The difference between the two is appreciable – Taste is very much an artifact of its time, teeming with cut-and-dry shoegaze tropes and Jesus and Mary Chain-isms while # Untitled Second is as robust a pop album as you’re likely encounter on Creation, sounding a bit like a companion piece, somewhat in sound and most definitely in breadth, to the Verve’s A Storm in Heaven. Other points of reference: Ride, in its ability to comfortably return to more straightforward rock after floating amongst the clouds; Slowdive, in its breathiness; Spacemen 3, for being able to hover right in front of you while still moving forward.

I’m certainly trying not to deny the band its own agency through all these references; somehow, operating within a genre so easily self-confined, they carved out a moderately distinctive sound for themselves, as well. It comes out best through minor details, like the hints of piano that shimmer briefly in “You Set My Soul,” or bongos, organs, banjo, and sitar strewn about other places. These extras communicate well with the band’s general framework, often consisting of transcendent visions built on a foundation of strummed acoustic guitars and then prodded forward by outburts of heavily-affected electrics. Occasionally, chaos is granted center-stage, like in “Ocean Drive” where feedback convulses violently for several minutes as the other instruments offer backing.

The three bonus tracks here are a version of “High on Fire” from the Flying EP, a reworking of “The Sleepwalk” that includes sitar, and “Sunspray,” a track absent from the original press of the album. Overall, # Untitled Second, is a useful diversion for any ‘gaze fans that may have missed out on The Telescopes the first time around.