Telegraphs - We Were Ghosts

Tim Miller 17/05/2009

Rating: 4/5

I'm no biographer, but Telegraphs' story is one that I seem to have been telling for a long time. Indeed, three years ago this month GIITTV published one of the band's very first reviews, their debut double A-side So Cold/Ariel garnering high praise from yours truly, which was echoed in the summer of 2007 with the equally impressive 'Across A Wire' EP. Since then, (the biographer continued!), weighty acclaim has followed for singles Your First Love is Dead, The Rules of Modern Policing and I Don't Navigate By You, both here and in notable rock stalwarts Kerrang! and Rock Sound among other places. The five-piece from the Sussex south coast certainly haven't rushed into the album, then, and have mapped their growing reputation carefully with painstakingly crafted releases. But this is the full lengther, the biggie. And what of it?

The first point that jumps out - uneasily - is that if you've ever listened to more than one of Telegraph's songs, chances are you'll find something you're familiar with on the album. The four aforementioned singles have made the cut here, while a fifth, We Dance in Slow Motion, is due out next week (18th) to precede the release of this LP. And track nine here, Notes From an Exit Station, has survived from that early EP too. If I was jumping the gun, I'd have concerns that this 11-song album might be little more than a convenient summary of the last three years.

But jumping the gun has been the downfall of a few much-anticipated debuts of recent times, and it is an accusation that certainly can't be levelled at Telegraphs. Not here will you find bum notes, rushed structures or clich├ęd lyrics - in that respect in fact, they have a knack for punchy song titles, although in the case of Drop D Not Bombs, the album's rather forgettable instrumental, a decent title is all its got going for it. Luckily, it's quickly overruled by the centrepoint to We Were Ghosts, the electric I Don't Navigate By You. Justifying its placement on the album, the former single boasts moody urgent verses and a soaring chorus, employing the aching dual vocals of Darcy Harrison and Hattie Williams, the band's most potent weapon in its arsenal.

That the technique can be - and is - put to good use in every track on this album only certifies the strength of Telegraphs' vocal department. In particular, choruses are the strong point of We Were Ghosts, and this is hammered home in quick succession in the opening segment of the album. Second track We Dance in Slow Motion breaks with spiky guitar beginnings mimicking early Bloc Party, but then erupts into a monolithic chorus, one of the many you'll find coming back to you days later. Opener The Argument has already done damage to this end, with its high melodic guitar lines, another permanent fixture across the hook-filled bombast that accounts for much of We Were Ghosts.

It is easy to mistake that bombast, so expressive and unrestrained, as emotion for emotion's sake, but it's more naturally a by-product of finely crafted and deeply sincere music and words. Perhaps the biggest error would be to dismiss Forever Never as indulgent; after all, it knits together a quiet /loud alternation from briskly strummed acoustic to crashing overdriven rock before slipping into a sprawling, mini-epic outro complete with strings, and a rare bit of guitar fiddling. You could call it ambitious, but whatever pretension it may suggest, it backs up by being earnestly self-aware, and so vigilant have the band been elsewhere, you can forgive them this moment of grandeur.

The babe So Cold has been reworked into a darker prospect but retains its pop sensibilities in structure, and that clinically catchy chorus. It precedes its partner from the debut EP, Notes from an Exit Station, which here, while perhaps the most straightforward pop-rock song going, still sounds bold and arresting. The LP ends with a bang too, the four-minute What's So Good About Goodbye? a classy work of driving, lingering angst-rock, another soaring lead vocal and - yep - chorus anthem.

We Were Ghosts is an immensely impressive, polished debut, full of high quality songs and, in particular, lethal choruses: more than that it is a significant debut in the world of British melodic rock and a worthy addition to fans of that genre's collections. For the initiated it may grate that so many of the songs are past acquaintances, but so accomplished an album is it that in the interests of fairness this can be overlooked here, and We Were Ghosts deserve the accolades it is steadily collecting. Now, what will happen in the next chapter?

Released 25th May 2009