The recent lo-fi movement has proved a particular boon to solo artists, who can write, perform, and record all on their own, often at home, without the bells & whistles of a studio or a band. It’s given birth to a variety of sounds, from the chillwave of Ariel Pink (QRO album review) to the cheeriness of Michael Benjamin Lerner, a.k.a. Telekinesis. Working solo can also mean a lack of variety and depth, even when enjoyable, and such was the case with his 2009 debut, Telekinesis!. Lerner develops on follow-up 12 Desperate Straight Lines, even if there’s still more developing to do.
Most of Lines is cheery garage ditties, such as march-opener “You Turn Clear In the Sun” or up-down “I Got You”. Unfortunately, too many of the 12 tracks struggle to stand-out amid the solo garage (Lerner does tour with a backing line-up, including Jaguar Love’s Cody Votolato – QRO interview), and are left as run-of-the-mill lo-fi. Lerner is strongest when he either goes really cheery, or not cheery at all. “Car Crash” and “Country Lane” are so cheery and catchy that you can’t help but enjoy them – even if they sound pretty similar to one another. Meanwhile, “Please Ask For Help” and “Fever Chill” go darker with more bass – the former with a new wave bass line and rhythm that evokes “Pretty In Pink” and countless other great John Hughes-approved songs.
“Please” and “Fever” are done so well that one can’t help but wish Lerner had worked more in that style on 12 Desperate Straight Lines, especially as the cheery garage note to the rest of the record feels a bit overplayed. Still, there are some choice pieces to the enjoyable little album.
MP3 Stream: “Car Crash“