For Telekinesis’s second full-length release, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, frontman Michael Benjamin Lerner has again teamed up with producer Chris Walla for another stellar album. Where a long-distance relationship and quick production inspired Telekinesis!, 12 Desperate Straight Lines was borne of separation and discontent. Don’t let the surrounding circumstances scare you off, though – the album is highly listenable and has all the catchy hooks of its predecessor.
In addition to reuniting with Walla, Lerner brought back the players from interim EP Parallel Seismic Conspiracies – Cody Votolato [Blood Brothers] and Jason Narducy [Robert Pollard Band]. The songs are still recorded to tape, but the sound is a little richer, namely due to Lerner’s new love of fuzz-heavy bass.
12 Desperate Straight Lines is an all-around solid album, weaving lovable lyrics through the changing sounds, threading together beachy distortion (imagine Nirvana had been cast in a 60s-beach-party-movie remake for “Palm of Your Hand”) with ethereal, echoing “Patterns” and the aggressive “Fever Chill”. The first three songs, though, are the ones you won’t be able to stop listening to on repeat.
“You Turn Clear in the Sun” starts off with just Lerner’s voice and an acoustic guitar, but things quickly pick up with fuzzy bass, drums, bells and other sonic flourishes. Lerner is quick to air the dirty laundry – “I never loved you, I’ve never loved anyone,” but despite the bummer the relationship turned out to be it’s an upper of a song. Telekinesis channels The Cure with track two’s guitars, and before long you’ll be dancing like the orange-shirted Peanuts kid and reveling in the sentiment of “you’ve got the salt / and I’ve got the wound / but all you got to do is ask.” Topping out the first quarter of the album is “50 Ways”, one of the best songs to emerge of late. Nodding to Paul Simon, Lerner calls him out by name and Telekinesis mimics Simon’s track in structure, but takes things in a darker direction. The interplay of plucked guitar and the grungy grind of the chorus is perfectly balanced and leaves listeners happy to wallow in their own obsessions of lovers who left – “I try to focus on anything else, but I keep on hearing your name.”