Every shoegaze fan should own The Telescopes second album, yet it isn’t quite what you expect from the band, who replaced most of the JAMC/Sonic Youth-inspired noise from previous releases with quieter songs. This new approach didn’t weaken The ‘Scopes though, as the enigmatically titled # Untitled Second reaches the same psychedelic heights, and has a more timeless introspective feel to it – think Darklands, or The Velvet Underground’s self-titled third album. The complex arrangements – executed by a seven-person version of the band, along with outside musicians – are surprisingly accomplished, and Stephen Lawrie and Jo Doran’s harmonies never sounded better.
So, if the album is great (and it is), why can’t I fully recommend this CD? Well, it was already reissued by Rev-ola Records back in 2004, with different bonus tracks (admittedly the three on this version are better, including a sitar-led instrumental version of non-album single “The Sleepwalk”), slightly better remastering and insightful liner notes by Creation Records exec Joe Foster. For example, did you know that the fizzing noise during the first verse of “Spaceships” was achieved by recording the sound of sugar being poured into lemonade? Well, if you got the Bomp version you wouldn’t, since there’s no liner notes. While this is a great album, and I’m glad to have the three new bonus tracks, would it have been so hard for Bomp to include all the non-album material, spring for better remastering, and get some liner notes to make this the definitive version? Until someone makes this happen, I guess this will have to do.