Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines

January 01, 1970



Telekinesis, the fuzzy pop project from Michael Benjamin
Lerner, crafts simple, exuberant, heartwarming rock and roll. Lerner is well aware
of the power of the power chord, the emotive effects of loud-quiet-loud, and
the eerie potency that his upper register vocals have, quavering above the 12
addictive nuggets on his new album.


12 Desperate Straight Lines gets going with
unwavering aplomb, as Lerner sings about a summer-spring romance over strummed
acoustic guitar. Then the bass kicks in, the overdrive-coated instrument at the
core of the album. He says he was inspired by Mark Robinson’s Flin Flon project
for Teenbeat, and wrote the new record’s songs mostly on bass. It’s a good
idea, especially when combined with the spindly guitar lines and
flange-effected drums of a song like “Please Ask For Help.” “50 Ways” slows
things down a bit, bringing The Clean to mind on its sparse verses before a
Weezer-style anthemic chorus punches in. Such effects may be due in part to
Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla’s hand on the production tiller here,
resulting in a crystal clear and extremely warm sound that serves Lerner’s
songwriting well.


This is straight-up power pop projected through a vulnerably
personal filter of life and love, but the songs never feel contrived. Each has
its own distinctive personality, and at less than three minutes apiece, there
are no frills. Yes, there are recognizable elements here, but that’s part of
the pleasure. Lerner’s current touring lineup consists of sometime Robert
Pollard bandmate Jason Narducy on bass and Jaguar Love and ex-Blood Brothers
member Cody Votolato on guitar. So Lerner’s playing drums and singing on tour,
and making better music than Phil Collins can even dream of (at least as of
late). 12 Desperate Straight Lines is the proof.


Ask For Help,” “50 Ways” JONAH FLICKER

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