The Great Spontanaen, A Tale Told In Five Acts
Do you ever worry the world is going to end thanks to some combination of hyper-caffeinated anxiety, extreme internet usage, and a constantly shifting definition of what a “good American” is? well regardless of whether you have Telethon have arrived with the sprawling new punk rock opera, The Grand Spontanean, heralding these fears and bringing a sense of weird, beautiful levity to all those who listen. The Grand Spontanean is a cosmic trip of punk rock filtered through straight up rock n’ roll, anthemic power pop and every other style in which they could meld their sound into that has resulted in a true blue five act rock opera about a self-centred, internet addicted twenty-something realizing the world’s about to end in a storm of noise and chaos.
ACT I: Bad Reputation
The Great Spontanean is not a regular punk rock release, this is a sprawling punk rock opera that is played out over five acts, The Signal is fine who-esque introduction that bleeds into the epic power pop of Apocalypse When and Succinct The Optimist , the latter of which contains a distinct waft of Weezer. Doctor and He’s Right bring a welcome touch of rock ‘n roll to The Great Optimist and the excellent The Paranoid Blur brings a manic ska influence as the story starts to unfold in earnest. Act I is brought to a close with the melancholy Tiny Rushes and the paranoid psychedelic surreality of The Page At The End Of The Internet.
ACT II: Cold Sweat
Punctuation! opens Act II with some frantic stripped down punk rock topped off with guitar riffs that invoke the ghost of Thin Lizzy, the epic Wrung slowly builds the pace and across it’s eight minutes. Flatpack brings a piano led element of baroque ‘n roll into The Grand Spontanean, whilst the theatrical A Martyr’s View From The View At The Marriott Marquis segues into a reprise of The Page At The End Of The Internet. When compared to Act I you get the distinct feeling that that Act II is building the narrative and allowing the story to expand, something that is an essential element of any good rock opera.
ACT III: Fight Or Fall
The dark opening chords and overture of Underture indicate we’re into the meat and bones of this tale, Temporarily kicks back into power pop rock territory before Stillwave initially brings us a touch of heartland rock, it also includes the impossible not to love lyric of ‘beating down the gates of Disneyland’, this just shy of ten minute epic ebbs and flows constantly whilst The Imporable New Sensations continues the country element that has pervaded Act III. Generator, Until The Ball Stops and My Second To Last Monday bring Act III to a close and keep the country feel, but they incorporates punk rhythms and a ska beat into it’s mix, which is not a combination I think I have encountered being blended together before.
ACT IV:Running Back
Notches On The Scale opens Act IV with an almost evangelical feel before The Runner’s High brings us back firmly into a punkier moment. The Sudden Walk provides a brief narrative prior to On Companionship providing a brief nod to either Paul McCartney or James Bond, depending on your viewpoint, prior to an earnest build up of country influenced rock. A brief Weezer influenced number, The Weirdness Flows, precedes Act IV’s finale, Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve that builds up to the end of the world with a dark and chaotic blast that takes us into the final act, and towards the end of the world as we know it.
ACT V: Remembering
A Choice! reveals that the world did not stop spinning and gives you the option of how to end the album, if you let the album spin rather than choosing one of the trio of options you get Firebrand, the pessimistic option, a return to the power pop influenced rock that has characterised my favourite musical elements of this album. Thirty Seconds Of Silence, a track that does exactly what it says in the title punctuates the endings, and Fruitbat, the optimistic option for the end of The Great Spontanean, combines the country and heartland themes that have been a regular fixture of the album
Joining Telethon on the record is an impressive list of their friends and idols, including the likes of Laura Stevenson, Chris Farren, Franz Nicolay and Peter Hess of The World/Inferno Friendship Society and Roger Lima of Less Than Jake. Like Green Day‘s American Idiot and Fat Mike‘s Home Street Home before it, The Grand Spontanean is taking punk rock into the theatrical arena, I always get nervous when I hear the words concept album, the thought of the ghost of prog rock rearing it’s ugly head is not something I want to contemplate, thankfully on The Great Spontanean this is not something I have to worry about, yes this is self indulgent in places but what else would you expect from a ninety minute five act punk rock opera?
The greatest compliment you can pay to The Grand Spontanean is that the songs are equally at home being buried in a shuffle, although the album asks that the deity of your choice takes mercy on your weary soul if you choose this option, as they are played out as part of this grand punk rock opera. Telethon have unleashed a sprawling five act album that it’s very hard to fault, elements of punk rock sit alongside power pop, ska, psyche, country and a few hard rock flourishes, and pretty much everything else in between, to create and epic and truly original release. The Grand Spontanean is sprawling, ridiculous, eccentric and overblown, and if I’m honest I loved every minute of it.
The Great Spontanean
can be pre-ordered here