Tellison - Contact! Contact! (Cover Artwork)


Contact! Contact! (2007)

Banquet Records

Tellison's status in the media has been a shock to me for a long time. Here is a band that has consistently put out great music, and released great singles, year after year since at least 2007, being ignored by nearly every online music publication. I mean, sure, there was quite a gap between this album, Contact! Contact!, and the next one, The Wages Of Fear, but they had a couple of good EPs and a hell of a single with the song "Gallery." I hadn't even heard of them until 2008, when they were briefly a featured band on, which is still the only site giving them any decent coverage. I'm sure that Tellison's non-entity status is exaggerated from my point of view, being that it's a U.K. band and I'm from the States, but still- this is a band worth talking about, and Contact! Contact! is a damn good album.

Tellison plays the "tinny-sounding guitars and melodic hooks" variety of indie rock with a heavy influence from the "soft voice and quiet instrumentation" variety and some very punk-esque shouting and gang vocals thrown in. The result is that Contact! Contact! rises and falls steeply, the high energy of its faster numbers fading quickly into the subdued quiet of its slower ones, which turns out to be one of the album's greatest strengths. It finds a near-perfect balance between high and low in Stephen H. Davidson's greatly adaptable voice and sincere, literate lyrics. A slow-down in tempo and a few seconds of silence are all he needs to turn the spirited "Tender is the Night," for example, into the powerfully stripped and sincere "Fire" without any mood whiplash.

The first track, "Hanover Start Clapping," begins the whole affair in a spirited fashion, with a one-two-three-four count-off and sublime vocal harmony, leading into a palm-muted riff reminiscent of the Futureheads. "Reader" is of the aforementioned "tinny-sounding guitars and melodic hooks" variety, and "Gallery," the first single off the album, is slightly more complicated and much noisier; an odd choice for a single, but a hell of a catchy song after a few listens. Track five, "New York New York New York," is apparently an admission of a fear of America's largest city and features more gang vocals and shouting than any other song on the album. The band manages to avoid any slump in quality spectacularly as the album goes on, as every track has some redeeming quality, be it impressive percussion from Henry Danowski (whose name is lent to the title of "Henry Goes To Paris") or the keyboard-laced chorus of "Ambulance." Even the hidden track, a cover of "Song 1" by Cable, is a hell of an earworm. I suggest a listen to this album right away for any fan of indie or post-punk music.