“You’ve got to love the Australian record industry. It really is a sheltered workshop for sad hipsters who wouldn’t know talent if it cut them into small pieces and fed them into a wood-chipping machine.
Here are the peerless local duo the Telltales, now on their third album and still no major record company is beating down their door. The Telltales write and record pop songs so perfect, so accessible, so immediately supercharged with tender emotions that they are simply too good for the cloth-eared loons who spend their days trying to catch internet pirates and planning re-releases of Kiss and Barry Manilow.
Listen to the likes of Don’t Go Quietly and marvel at the sweet voice of Toby Roberts and the instantly accessible hooks. Surrender to the melancholy magic of Words with Will Belford providing backing vocals and the lyrical quasi-folk style of Beauty in You. In Britain the Telltales would be massively successful. But this is Australia.”
“With a production budget like Coldplay, the bittersweet ache of a song like Words, from this third album by local artists The Telltales, could give the Poms a run for their money. Opening cut Don't Got Quietly could similarly sit quite comfortably on a Savage Garden album. That should give you some idea of the level of songcraft these guys are working and it's just a pity those of you who have bought the aforementioned artists are all too unlikely to bother checking this album out, 'cause you really would like it
The core of The Telltales is singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist Toby Roberts. While he probably hasn't the vocal power to take these songs to 'stadium' level as a performer, his tone is so warmly alluring and subtley intimate that Under the Waterline easily makes the perfect after-party comedown companion, particularly tracks like Icebergs and Skin & Bones, with their languid, aching emotional landscapes. These are Roberts' forte, much stronger than the more up-tempo pieces, though Keep It Up and Let Me In aren't necessarily bad songs, just weaker in comparison to Icebergs or Don't Go Quietly.
It's the subtlety in the arrangements that make Roberts' best songs work so well. The players he's assembled in The Telltales (who these days are essentially Roberts and bass player Will Belford and guest keyboards player Steve Shipley and drummer Neil Rankin) understand the art of understatement beautifully, with the occasional bonus of the gentle backing vocals of Amina Lesley.”