Telekinesis Telekinesis!

[Merge; 2009]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: indie pop, singer-songwriter, white people
Others: Devin Davis, Ben Gibbard, Pete Yorn

Recorded at a song-a-day pace, Telekinesis! possesses a breezy charm that offsets any qualms about the minor banality of its songwriting. Michael Lerner, the man behind the Telekinesis moniker, has a voice that sounds like any number of other reedy white boys; its tone shows a small amount of variation, from a Pete Yorn drawl to a Jim Jones croon. At first listen, there is little to differentiate this record from any number of other indie pop albums: the songs are simple and straightforward. Despite Telekinesis!'s lack of originality and apparent simplicity, once it has its hooks in, they're awfully hard to pull out again.

The beefier tracks make the strongest impressions. "Look to the East," which opens with a riff that would not have been out of place on Dookie, has a heft to it that matches the song's rollicking drums nicely. The acoustic fake-out intro to "Foreign Room" contrasts nicely with the brawny power-pop of the song's second half. In fact, contrast is another of Telekinesis!'s virtues; Chris Walla's production gives the album a dynamism that exaggerates the louder and softer moments. "Coast of Carolina"'s glammy stomp would make less of an impact if it weren't for the wispy, lo-fi opening, while the sugary, "Crocodile Rock"-reminiscent piano line on "Awkward Kisser" brushes pleasantly against the gauzy, Ronettes-ish swoon of the chorus. Telekinesis!, if not especially unique, is certainly effective.

Lerner's knack for pop is clear, but he doesn't do quite enough to set himself apart from the winsome white-boy pack. As far as one-man bands go, Telekinesis lacks the wit or the inventiveness of a Devin Davis or A.C. Newman. The arrangements are simple, often to a fault, and the lyrics, though littered with names of people and places, fail to evince even a modicum of personality; simplicity is just another blessing/curse. Rather than concentrate on development, the less forceful songs just linger awkwardly. Weaker tracks, like "Imaginary Friend" and "Great Lakes," can feel earnest and dry, while "Rust" comes across a little too much like a Death Cab draft.

Still, at a total length of half an hour, it's hard to resent any awkward moments too strongly. Telekinesis! passes quickly, and even if Lerner doesn't make the strongest impression, he also knows better than to waste your time. As enjoyable as it can be, Telekinesis! is only good enough to make you wish it were better.

1. Rust
2. Coast of Carolina
3. Tokyo
4. Look to the East
5. Awkward Kisser
6. Foreign Room
7. Great Lakes
8. Imaginary Friend
9. All of a Sudden
10. Calling All Doctors
11. I Saw Lightning

Most Read