EMI/Catalogue - 2001 - 54 minutes
The eternal question: is an album worth buying on the strength of one song? Your wallet might think no, your record collection might say otherwise. 'Breathe', the lead single and opening track on French trio Télépopmusik's debut, is so great and so beautiful that you wonder if you can stand it if the rest of the album does such a job on your heart. Sadly, the excitement sparkles then fades because what follows is steady rather than spectacular and only offers glimmers of the class that drew you in in the first place.
The Télépopmusikians - Stephan Haeri, Christophe Hétier and Fabrice Dumont - are all multi-instrumentalists who know their way around a mixing desk, but these talents only occasionally translate into memorable songs and the feeling you're left with is of a genius singles band who just don't have it in them for a full album - yet. While they career through countless styles, they work best when they're in the dumps - with 'Breathe', the noirish spoken word of 'Trishika' and the show-stopping blues lament 'Yesterday Was a Lie' worthy of any record of the year.
But when you put these songs up alongside some of their hip-hop and electro forays the gulf between class and average is apparent. And while the arrangements are always clever and stylish, they probably will mean more to people fascinated with the production side of things than those seeking heaven between their headphones. There's enough here to suggest that when they stop trying to be everything to everyone, Télépopmusik will mean a lot more to a lot more people. In the meantime, buy the 12" of 'Breathe' and wear the grooves off it.
Tracklisting: Breathe - Genetic World - Love Can Damage Your Health - Animal Man - Free - Let's Go Again - Da Hoola (Soda-Pop Mix) - Smile - Trishika - Yesterday Was a Lie - L'Incertitude D'Heisenberg