Merge/Inertia, 2009

Telekinesis! is a rare breed of a record. Sounding like someone’s just quietly slipped a microphone under a garage door to record a bunch of guys just having fun playing; it’s a surprise to learn that Telekinesis, the band, is effectively just one guy in Michael Benjamin Lerner.

There’s a huge nod to Death Cab for Cutie — so it comes as no surprise then to find that Death Cab’s guitarist Chris Walla, having effectively discovered Lerner, produced, engineered and mixed this debut. Despite recording a song a day straight to analogue tape by only one member (although live the band has swelled to a four piece) you sure can’t hear where any of this is layered together. Kudos to Lerner and Walla for some slick production.

Opener “Rust” lays back and basks in its own acoustic glow, but it’s on “Coast of Carolina” where the fuzzy pop sing-along tendencies of Lerner first come to the fore. When we’re implored to “Turn it Up” you can just imagine the grin on his face playing this, as it’s probably the same grin that we have while listening to it. The shimmering “Tokyo” is the highlight, almost descending into a glam stomp but veering just this side of sequin hell with the right amount of feedback. It’s an ode to a city which he’s admittedly never visited, but that doesn’t detract from the song in any way.

“All of a Sudden”, like so much of this album, is effectively a love song when you strip it down. Buts it’s the reverential way that Lerner has crafted these songs around his thoughts as much as his experience that sucks you in. If this was recorded heavy handily we could easily be dealing with the soundtrack to your next preppy teen TV show nightmare, instead in these hands we have the missing link between ‘50’s boy meets girl saccharine sweet and ‘90’s college rock.

The record is power pop at its most glorious. It sounds like the most fun you can have with your clothes on, and even then that’s optional really. It has me wistful for those late teen days when everything seemed to be awash with technicolor.  It’s the perfect soundtrack to summer days spent hanging out in the park, before driving across town to some party at a girls house you don’t even know, windows open and the music turned up loud. When Lerner sings on “Awkward Kisser” of “Cherry blossoms and Cherry Soda/Picnics in the countryside” you think yeah, he’s onto something there. Some good clean innocent fun without having to worry about tomorrow.

Unfortunately for us here in the southern hemisphere it’s effectively winter, but really it would be churlish of me to accuse Michael Lerner of rubbing it in. If it’s summer where you are turn this up. If its not then just turn the heating up too and pretend it is.