12 Desperate Straight Lines
Feb 15, 2011 Web Exclusive
For someone whose biggest musical aspiration was once nothing more than to play drums in someone else’s rock band, Michael Benjamin Lerner is making a heck of a go as a multi-talented source of propulsive hooks and power pop craftsmanship. Posting a number of songs on a MySpace page under the name Telekinesis back in 2008, Lerner’s straightforward, saccharine exuberance caught the attention of Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, who wound up producing the one-man recording artist’s eponymous debut. Completing a song a day on analog tape, the full-length was Lerner’s inspired effort to close the distance between coasts created by a long-distance relationship.
Gleaning from Lerner’s sophomore follow-up 12 Desperate Straight Lines, the romance did not end as well as it could have for the Seattle-based songwriter. From the first few verses of opener “You Turn Clear in the Sun,” to the self-explanatory “I Cannot Love You,” and the metaphorical “Car Crash,” Lerner wallows in the tropes of heartache, but does so with such a spring-loaded sense of enthusiasm you’d think such lovelorn misery suited his creative agenda.
Once again teaming up with Walla at Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland, OR, and implementing the same recording methodology, 12 Desperate Straight Lines is as consistent if not more fully formed than its predecessor, featuring pop tunes that are well-constructed and incredibly taut (like Telekinesis! nothing comes close to breaking the four-minute mark in length, never outwearing its welcome). Also like its predecessor, 12 Desperate Straight Lines doesn’t swerve into bizarre moments of experimentation. Lerner of course hardly needs incentive for doing so when such simple hooks, great rhythms, and sunny woa-woa harmonies can be just as rewarding a listen as those experimentally complex indie composers. No one would fault this solid sequel if it wanted to add some of its own exclamation points to its title. (www.telekinesismusic.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10