Release Date: Jul 7, 2017
Record label: Tapete Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Telescopes' 2017 album, As Light Return, is an almost 180-degree turn from their previous album, Hidden Fields. That record was their most song-based effort in years, with melodies and hooks poking out through the gnarly waves of guitar noise. In contrast, As Light Return is an almost unbroken wall of guitar noise, with nary a song to be found. Stephen Lawrie is joined by members of the band St Deluxe and together they craft an oppressive, claustrophobia-inducing album made up of tortured guitar drones and feedback, a rhythm section that sounds like it's stripping its gears, deeply buried vocals, and an overall feeling that lands several stops past menacing.
Burton-upon-Trent, the North Midlands town that produced both The Telescopes and this reviewer, is principally known for the quality of its beer, boasting a brewing industry that was once world renowned. Unfortunately, its contribution to popular culture has been somewhat less noteworthy, with that fine actor Paddy Considine an honourable exception. In terms of a musical legacy, Burton's pantheon essentially consists of two bands – tuneful but twee folk-rockers The Leisure Society and shoegaze survivors The Telescopes.
From the artwork to the titles to the music, almost everything about As Light Return produces a disorienting effect. It begins with the arguably ungrammatical subject-verb disagreement in the title. Then one notices the album’s song titles are themselves a curiosity. There are five of them, and two entirely different songs are called, respectively, “Hand Full of Ashes” and “Handful of Ashes”.