March 12th, 2011

Telekinesis: 12 Desperate Straight Lines

Written by Esther Sadler

Although essentially a breakup album, following the end of a long distance relationship, '12 Desperate Straight Lines' - Michael Benjamin Lerner’s second Telekinesis album - is a remarkably happy-sounding piece of indie pop. “Car crash car crash late in the night - wo-oh oh-oh oh oh” warbles Lerner while trying to make us believe that “I wake up so cold, with not a thing to do/ I thought this was love, now I’m more confused, more confused…” on Car Crash. And he’s not done.“ I cannot love, I cannot love you,” he cheerfully choruses over an enthusiastic My Sharona-ish rhythm and riff on I Cannot Love You, while explaining “You think you’re right, I think you’re wrong/You’ve got a heavy heart and a sad, sad song.”

Indeed the entire album continues much in this manner, with bouncy songs of heartbreak and hopelessness. At their best Telekinesis remind the listener of the sweet indie unease of a rather cheerier Death Cab for Cutie ('You Turn Clear In The Sun', 'Fever Pitch') or the power pop goodness of 'Cheap Trick' (tunes like the fresh and breezy 'Country Lane'). At worse they sound uncomfortably like a Washed Out Weezer (the unfeasibly pleased with itself 'I Got You') or even worse (the turgid nonsense of Patterns). But there are also bits of sunshine genius here too. 'Gotta Get It Right Now' is a proper crunchy pop anthem, with a glam rock rhythm and an insistently anthemic 'm(ELO)w' hookline under the crunchy T Rex-y rhythms and guitars, 'Please Ask For Help' has some twangy Cure-like guitars and bass creeping around a bouncing chorus and some handclapping drums.

This is a collection of catchy college friendly pure tunes, which is a rare trick in our post-postmodern and post-post rock days. Whilst the relentless pop perkiness and sheer cheer of these songs of lost love does wear the listener down a little and you begin to wish Lerner sounded a bit more miserable, you cannot argue with a good tune and there are plenty of good tunes here. Broken hearts apparently bounce.

Got something to say about this article? Pay a visit to our Music Forum to discuss this and many other topics! For more music reviews, interviews and features, visit the music section and our music archive