Telekinesis 12 Desperate Straight Lines
How nice is Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis? On “Car Crash,” a standout among many bouncy power-pop ditties on the new 12 Desperate Straight Lines, he makes the prospect of vehicular misadventure seem as threatening as a hot-fudge sundae. A lot of that is due to Lerner’s reedy voice—think Fountains Of Wayne’s Chris Collingwood minus the thirtysomething weariness—as well as the deceptive sweetness of his songwriting. As he first showed on Telekinesis’ 2009 debut, Lerner has a habit of hiding romantic dysfunction and alienation behind a sunny façade of frothy “ooh-ooh-oohing” choruses and buzzing bubblegum guitars. The irresistible “Please Ask For Help” boasts several layers of hooks, from the opening drumbeat to the insistently driving verses to the tautly repressive chorus, which slowly sinks the knife in as Lerner recounts a crippling communication breakdown between two lovers. He’s more direct on “I Cannot Love You,” though the grinding bass and airy vocals gives the loneliness a Zoloft glow. But while the hooks on 12 Desperate Straight Lines sink in easily, they’re far from painless.