(Self-released, CD, digital download)
In 1981, Barre’s Teleport delivered a veritable masterstroke of shamelessly earnest, blued-eyed soul called Lost in Space Forever that occupied a similarly feathered plane as soft-rock contemporaries Hall & Oates, Genesis and Kenny Loggins. That record … I’m sorry, what? The album came out in 2011? And most of Teleport had barely been born in 1981? You’re kidding me. Let’s try this again.
In 2011 — seriously?! — Barre’s Teleport delivered a veritable masterstroke of shamelessly earnest, blue-eyed soul called Lost in Space Forever that evoked the heyday of soft-rock superstars Hall & Oates and Kenny Loggins. Better?
The record was an intricately conceived and exquisitely executed homage to a bygone era of American pop that is often discarded — with good reason, in certain cases — as overt romantic schmaltz. But behind the fondue cheesiness and white-tiger-skin-rug lechery of the genre, a great deal of musical ingenuity can be found by those willing to hear it. On their recently released sophomore album, Bad for Business, Teleport peel away soft rock’s plush velvet robe and expose the raw — if a little hairy — musculature underneath.
Where Lost in Space most clearly followed the lineage set forth by the aforementioned Hall & Oates, Bad for Business aligns with another era contemporary, Steely Dan — and particularly the Donald Fagen-penned contributions to that band’s canon.
The record opens on “Deal,” which orbits around Mike Wheeler’s sleek keyboard bustle, and is accented by Adam Fuller’s gold-flecked guitar. A tumbling foundation is set into motion by Sean Martin’s efficient bass lines and Kevin Bell’s delicate drum work. But this intricate, jazz-inflected mojo is all window dressing for Wheeler, who as lead vocalist sings in a dusky croon that is at once breezily self-assured and vulnerable.
Wheeler’s disarming, Cetera-esque delivery is bolstered by his bandmates’ crystalline backing harmonies, which shimmer throughout — especially on cuts such as montage-worthy “Anybody in There,” “Lut Gohlein” and sunny album closer “Bad for Business.” They frame Wheeler’s playfully progressive melodies and winsome style with flair.
It would be easy to dismiss Teleport as some ironic novelty. But that would be a mistake. The band is less about updating or honoring their pop heroes than picking up where those well-groomed impresarios left off. Bad for Business is an immaculate creation filled with dynamic and intelligent compositions, superb performances and, yeah, a whole lotta blue-eyed soul.
Bad for Business by Teleport is available at teleport.bandcamp.com.