Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Gold Sounds: Telekinesis - Telekinesis! reviewed

Telekinesis - Telekinesis!

Though Telekinesis is signed to Merge, it's easy to compare them to several well-known Barsuk bands; Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf, and Ra Ra Riot immediately come to mind when listening to this debut. "Rust" and "I Saw Lightning," the songs bookending the album, recall recent Death Cab but with a happier feel (think of what would happen if Ben Gibbard consumed numerous pixie sticks before performing "I Will Follow You into the Dark" and you might get the idea). On the other end of the spectrum, "Coast of Carolina" is one of the best upbeat, straightforward indie rock songs in recent memory. Really, that's what it comes down to; this album is 32 minutes of pure indie pop/rock (as popularized by The O.C., of course) bliss.

When recording the album, Michael Lerner (sole recording member of Telekinesis) made a point not to overthink things. The approach works for the most part: Lerner consistently sounds like an exuberant kid deeply in love with music, even if that love is for a specific variety of it. The Chris Walla (it' s like Lerner was trying to make it impossible for anyone to NOT compare Telekinesis to Death Cab) production works wonders, making each song sound crisp and gorgeous. Every track, even the acoustic "I Saw Lightning," has a bouncy feel to it, making for one of the most musically enjoyable albums released so far this year. If you're able to listen to the whole album without dancing a little, you may need to refill your Paxil prescription.

This approach has a negative impact on the lyrics, however: the catchiest choruses consist of sung 'oooohs' ("Foreign Room") and short, repeated phrases ("Tokyo," "Coast of Carolina"), and clunkers like "Tell me if I'm wrong/Tell me if I'm right/Tell me if you're something/I'm not feeling nothing" abound in multiple songs. Lerner mostly sings about girls using generalities as well, which isn't necessarily bad but certainly not terribly interesting. Only "Calling All Doctors" breaks the lyrical mold using some clever hospital-related metaphors, and the music also differs by prominently featuring piano rather than drums/bass/guitar (a nice change from the other ten songs). The song is a standout for both these reasons.

Telekinesis, like many other rising bands, is obviously influenced by Death Cab for Cutie and Barsuk Records artists in general. However, Telekinesis separates itself from the pack by embracing this influence and creating obviously passionate, joyous, and fun music. This debut may not be the most original album you'll hear this year, but if you enjoy the poppier side of indie rock then you'll definitely find something to like here.

Telekinesis! is the debut album from Telekinesis, out April 7th courtesy of Merge Records.

Listen: Myspace

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