First Listen

First Listen: Telekinesis, '12 Desperate Straight Lines'

Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. i i

Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. Kyle Johnson/Courtesy of Merge Records hide caption

itoggle caption Kyle Johnson/Courtesy of Merge Records
Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis.

Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis.

Kyle Johnson/Courtesy of Merge Records

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I've always admired artists who can make darkness feel like sunshine, and Telekinesis does it better than most. The group's only permanent member, Michael Benjamin Lerner, writes songs that exude loneliness, heartache and the dizzying grief of dysfunctional relationships. But his agony is packaged in tightly wound, unabashedly upbeat pop songs. Misery has never sounded so worthy of company.

Telekinesis first broke through with a self-titled album — actually, it's called Telekinesis! — in 2009. The title of the band's new follow-up, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, says a lot about the music.

On the surface, the dozen tracks are fairly simple, straightforward bubblegum rock, each clocking in at a cozy two and a half to three minutes, but they exude desperation. Against a backdrop of buzzing guitars, bouncing beats and occasional ambient effects, Lerner sings about unrequited love, depression and hopelessness. The result is noisier than the band's first record, with none of the gentle acoustic numbers Lerner sprinkled throughout Telekinesis! But the added grit makes the mix more compelling. I see these songs as a celebration of life's low points, and I'm glad Telekinesis has invited us to the party.

Telekinesis' 12 Desperate Straight Lines will stream here in its entirety until its release on Feb. 15. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.

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First Listen