The Telephone Numbers surfaced in San Francisco in 2020. Initially with short form releases “I Took A Walk” and “Pictures Of Lee”, they followed these up with the “Leviathan / I Took A Walk” 7” earlier this year. Their sunshine Teenage Fanclub jangle pop piqued our interest so we were delighted to hear of a forthcoming album this year. ‘The Ballad Of Doug’ pits three tracks from their previous releases (“Pictures Of Lee”, “Curtains Close” and “Don’t Wanna Cry”) alongside seven new songs.
The jaunty ‘You’re Nowhere’ fades into clarity with its sweet chiming guitars and Elvis Costello melody.
The guitars hit that beautifully woozy Pastels tone while the sumptuous backing vocals push the summery Byrds vibe.
There’s a hint of Real Estate here too. The gentle echo of the hooks on ‘Oh Pretender’ are particularly reminiscent. However, they add additional textures in the fuzzy solos and twinkling glockenspiel. This would fit neatly into the twee pop scene of the early 2000s as much as it would the Postcard Records scene of the 80s.
The title track has shimmering strummed guitars a la the Cure’s ‘In Between Days’. The interplay between the vocal lines and rhythm section, playful. All this before a ripping Yo La Tengo-esque burst of guitar noise.
It’s pretty cliché to say it but this is great summer music.
’Sunset Town’ again has a hint of Elvis Costello within the vocal melodies backed by a sweet twee pop jangle.
They go all R.E.M. on the stunning previous single ‘Pictures Of Lee’. The guitars are Peter Buck-like and you could quite easily imagine Michael Stipe singing the vocal melodies. It’s gorgeous.
There’s an Elliott Smith quality to the glistening’ Kaleidoscope’, which introduces reverberant strings to the mix. They seemingly ramp up the pace with the playful opening to ‘Cards They Show U’. It takes a full minute before any vocals enter the fray. Eventually it shapeshifts into another jangle pop gem.
The Telephone Numbers bring back two more singles following this.
The lilting, sombre, yet uplifting and atmospheric ‘Curtains Close’ and the neat acoustic cover of The Keys’ ‘I Don’t Wanna Cry’. Closer ‘Open The Door’ is one final hit of R.E.M. meets The Cure songwriting.
‘The Ballad Of Doug’ has all the hallmarks of a classic late 80s power pop album that was somehow lost in time. An accomplished debut album.
You may enjoy this if you like: Teenage Fanclub, The Cure, R.E.M.