Self-discovery is a natural part of life. An examination of oneself is critical to self-improvement and personal growth. Self-discovery is particularly important for artists, as it often leads to creative exploration and subsequently results in evolution or artistic growth. Three full-length albums into his recording career, Michael Benjamin Lerner, the principal member of indie rock outfit Telekinesis, continues to grow. In fact, according to the press materials that accompany Telekinesis’ latest record, Dormarion, the prevailing sound of the album is that of “a man figuring out exactly who he is.”
“Power Lines” and “Empathetic People,” two relatively straightforward pop-rock tracks, open the record. By the third track, however, Lerner’s new-found proclivity for experimentation becomes abundantly clear. “Ghosts and Creatures” signifies the songwriter’s first real foray into electropop territory. The ethereal and atmospheric music of the song perfectly encapsulates Lerner’s lyrics of making a connection while feeling aimless or adrift. “Ever True,” the ninth track on Dormarion
, is yet another digitally inspired song. Heavy on fuzzy synthesizers and dependent on a drum machine, the tune is essentially an ‘80s pastiche that owes a great deal of debt to bands like New Order or the Pet Shop Boys.
Elsewhere on the album, Telekinesis’ songs range from pugnacious indie rock (“Wires,” “Dark to Light” and “Laissez-faire”) to anthemic power ballads (“Island #4” and “You Take It Slowly”). Lerner is at his best, however, when he is being simple and direct. On “Lean on Me” — an innocuous, early ‘60s-inspired ditty — the singer weaves a pastoral tale about fleeing with his love in the middle of the night via “beat-up truck.” “Symphony,” the album’s finest track, features Lerner’s dulcet tenor crooning atop a single acoustic guitar. The orchestral instruments that he alludes to in the song’s lyrics are noticeably absent. The simplistic arrangement, combined with Lerner’s heartfelt words, emphasize the flaws on the rest of the record, most notably the vague or abstract lyrics and the occasionally ostentatious musical accompaniment.
sounding like that of “a man figuring out exactly who he is” is not exactly a good thing. Given the variety of the songs, the record lacks cohesion, which translates to an often frustrating listening experience. The bright side, of course, is that Lerner is still young and early enough on in his career to one day truly discover himself and reach his full potential.