This Telekinesis was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Newly married, tired of the routine he had established on previous albums, and with a growing interest in retro synthesisers, Michael Benjamin Lerner decided to overhaul the concept of his moniker Telekinesis by producing his fourth album ‘Ad Infinitum’ in his basement with a whole new mindset.
What starts out with simplistic 80’s sounds and riffs that make you wonder if you are in fact listening to the Telekinesis you remember, expands into an ambitious album that teeters on the edge of both simple and complex; interweaving catchy hooks with reminiscent musical imagery.
The fuzzy guitar and ‘band’ feel of previous albums has been swapped for keyboards, which dominate the album from start to finish. However, the Telekinesis we know and love isn’t entirely lost inside this transformation, as Lerner manages to create something entirely new which still pays homage to the album’s predecessors. While his music has come a long way from the fantastic 2009 single ‘Coast of Carolina,’ a comparison with more recent albums (particularly his 2013 album ‘Dormarion’) proves that it has merely been a logical progression to get to this point.
For fans desperate to cling to what they remember of Telekinesis, ‘Edgewood’ is particularly reminiscent of earlier hits, a catchy pop track that stands up on its own and could become a very marketable single. ‘In a Future World’ is one of the bigger songs of the album, with a very rich 80’s sound which is very reminiscent of Canadian band Stars’ recent delve into the electronic genre with heavy 80’s influences. It seems that this era is making a sneaky comeback.
One of the more simple tracks on the album is ‘Sleep In,’ with a total of three chords, an annoying vocal sound that goes along with the chorus, and the cameo appearance of a Speak & Spell machine (think of the movie E.T.), the track sounds dangerously gimmicky.
More complex is ‘It’s Not Yr Fault,’ which interweaves dreamy vocals through layers of electronic synth. Although the lyrics urge to “take your time,” the song has a frantic and rushed feel with the music repeating a busy riff underneath the vocals, combined with a wailing screeching dissonant note leading into the second verse, and purposeful vocals throughout that suggest the feeling of being on some sort of mission.
Beautiful melody writing is showcased in ‘Farmers Road,’ with a melancholic-yet-foot-tapping track. This song works well featuring right before the album dissolves into final two-part ‘Ad Infinitum Pt.1’ and ‘Ad Infinitum Pt.2.’ These finishing tracks bring back the recurring dream-state theme that underpins the whole album.
This album lacks the purpose of previous Telekinesis albums, with songs that are more difficult to connect with. While the 2013 album ‘Dormarian’ contains some electronic nuances which suggest that this recent electronic direction shouldn’t be a total surprise, ‘Ad Infinitum’ is missing the drive and intensity that Telekinesis albums are known for; it feels like being stuck in a state of limbo. It will be interesting to see where the next album goes, but we can be hopeful Lerner can escape from the rut he found himself in while writing this album.
‘Ad Infinitum’ is out now via Merge Records.