Monday, November 24, 2008

Telepathic Butterflies - Songs From a Second Wave - 2004

The Telepathic Butterflies' second album (their first was actually released twice, first as Nine Songs in 2000, then as Introducing the Telepathic Butterflies, with four additional tracks, in 2003) is built on the same power pop scaffolding as the first, and the songs all exhibit a delightfully energetic joy. But first appearances can be deceiving, and Réjean Ricard's songs, for all their bubbly and harmonic surfaces, are actually full of regret, lost chances, and a general longing for the freedoms and familiarity of childhood. The lead track, "Bonhomie," which has all the trappings of a garage band classic, states the theme directly: freedom lies in childhood, the future forces responsibility. Ricard is a remarkably melodic (if occasionally wordy) writer, and coupled with drummer Jacques Dubois' tight, perfectly nuanced harmonies, the Telepathic Butterflies manage to have it both ways, sounding light and free while musing on deeper, sadder truths. The template for this sort of thing -- as it is for most power pop outfits -- comes from the Beatles, the Who, and the Kinks, and the Butterflies have made it their own (as hard as that is to do). Occasionally the influences show through. "Angry Young Man" feels like a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd track, while "Sickly and the Awkward Gene" seems like a classic early Pete Townshend or Ray Davies social study in mod behavior. Not that either of these songs is blatantly constructed -- much of what the Butterflies do works because of the group's frame of reference. Like the first album (in either version), Songs from a Second Wave feels like a burst of fresh air, and its bright, joyous surface is only made more striking by the depth and substance beneath it. The Telepathic Butterflies continue to be a band to watch. -AMG

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