Review Summary: Telekinesis' follow-up album tweaks the formula a tad, but manages to keep things sounding mostly the same. This is a good thing.
Telekinesis first appeared on the scene in 2009 with a self-titled debut, an album of bright power pop songs balanced by gentle, pretty ballads. It was a perfect summer album, despite the lyrics not correlating with the tone of the songs. Much of the first album was about the man behind Telekinesis, Michael Benjamin Lerner, and his inability to love someone. However, the overly slick production by DCFC's Chris Walla, added a sheen that would have you singing and smiling regardless of lyrical content. Lerner is hardly the first person to pull this trick, but it's something he does well.
In the time since the debut, he released an EP with much jaggeder edges, production-wise. So here we come to the follow-up LP, and it seems that Walla took the sound of that EP to heart, if only a little. The big, shimmering guitars are still present, but it's been toned down. In the time since the debut, it seems Lerner must have experienced a broken heart, as told by the lyrical content. However, once again, one can't help but smile and sing along.
The album opens with "You Turn Clear In The Sun", which would've sounded right at home on the debut, at least until the synths kick in. That's the moment you realize that as much as things have stayed the same, they've also changed. Lyrically, it seems to follow the same pattern as the debut, with the line "I've never loved you, I never loved anyone". However, that line is sandwiched between the lyrics "Let's start all over, let's start at square one" and "I can sit an wonder about where I went wrong", adding some doubt to the feeling he doesn't care. The following song, "Please Ask For Help", is completely indebted to The Cure in its sound. It's a change in direction to be certain, but it doesn't sound forced, so it works. Up next is "50 Ways", which opens with a crunching wall of guitar that could have come from an old Weezer album before turning into a gentle ballad with echoed vocals. However, the loud guitar picks up again for the chorus. It's a nice moment of release.
The middle of the album becomes pure power-pop, and energizes the entire album. One large improvement in the follow-up is definitely the sequencing. It starts with "I Cannot Love You", with a title that seems to say what the song is all about. However, by the quiet end, one gets a sense Lerner is trying to convince himself of this fact. "Dirty Thing"--a rumination on a former lover--follows, cleaned up from the way it sounded on the EP. Album highlight and centerpiece, "Car Crash" come next. It's the "Coast Of Carolina" of the new album, and one that points out clearly the improvements in pacing. COC was the second song on the debut, and it was an impossible song to top. "Car Crash" follows the same template sonically, with a huge chorus and backing "oooh, oooh, oooh's". It's a song made for driving with the windows down. The following songs, "Palm of Your Hand" and "I Got You" are strong follow-ups, and won't have you looking to repeat "Car Crash" right when it finishes. The album finishes strong, with another highlight--"Country Lane"--and the ballad "Patterns".
Telekinesis doesn't deal in music that is highly-fashionable, yet he makes music that never really goes out of fashion. I'm OK with that, and he seems to be too. Though the growth between albums is small, it's there. I'm all for an artist showing maturity and growth, but if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Lerner seemed to realize this when making the album. Though the album closer is titled "Gotta Get It Right Now", Lerner seems to have already done so. He found a formula that works, and stuck with it. And that's a commendable thing sometimes. And any fan of power-pop should feel the same.