Is there a better way to describe the type of genre-bending, nostalgia-brimming sonic experience Texas-based pop duo Tele Novella delivers than to call it, simply, “whimsical?” This can be said for the entirety of their first full-length release, a ten-track piece titled Merlynn Belle. Sure, the very pointed pop, folk, and psychedelic influences leap quite fluidly from one to the other, but there is a type of theatrical quality to their delivery that makes even spooky nuances in their tracks feel positive and hopeful.

Except “Crystal Witch.” That is still very intense and largely dark. But, if you choose to enjoy the short 3 minutes and 9 seconds this track takes up, you’ll still feel that theatrical positivity by the end. (Don’t ask. We don’t make the rules.)

It’s no surprise that the duo’s sound is so reminiscent of past beauty, either. The premise of their art is that it comes from a town – Lockhart, Texas, specifically – that is “a small town, lost in time.” Lyrics like “Send me a postcard when you get to” (Words That Stay), “I’ve got her bonnet and her gloves” (One Little Pearl), and “In my Technicolor Town” (Technicolor Town) reaffirm the fact that the music is to have come from that time, and is not just heavily influenced by that trend. However, the duo has done a stand-up job at making sure the majority of the lyrics translate and are not tied to one timeframe or one particular circumstance.

One overarching theme to this album is that it is there to paint a picture. Where the lyrics wouldn’t indicate context in some ways, the bassline and cadence paint their own pictures. This is truly an audio adventure, meant to be enjoyed in order, from beginning to end.

At just 32 minutes long, we have faith you can set aside some time for this energetic and truly phenomenal release in its entirety.

Meredith Schneider