Some artists are criticized for releasing the same album over and over, while others are condemned for not delivering seconds and “turning their back” on the sound that brought their fans to the table. But Michael Benjamin Lerner, who performs under the name of Telekinesis, recycles his signature punchy drum-bass-guitar (with the occasional keyboard) arrangements for a third time on Dormarion and manages to keep it fresh.
Dormarion is named after the street in Austin, Texas that is home to Spoon drummer Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi studio where the album was recorded. Telekinesis’ first two albums—2009’s self-titled album and 2011’s 12 Desperate Straight Lines—were both produced with Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla, and Dormarion fits perfectly alongside them. Lerner’s collaboration with Eno is just as solid as his work with Walla, proving that he knows exactly what he’s doing in recording all of the parts himself.
The most noticeable difference comes more in the tone of the songs. 12 Desperate Straight Lines was very obviously a break-up album, which lent a certain frantic and desperate wild energy to those songs. The tone on Dormarion harkens back to some of the happy-go-lucky vibes found on Telekinesis! but maintains the almost non-stop rock of 12 Desperate Straight Lines.
Like its predessors, Dormarion’s lyrics are filled with personal yet identifiable snapshots. “Symphony,” the album’s only acoustic track, beautifully paints a picture of love with lines like: “I do believe that we are machines and we search til our parts intersect.”
“Power Lines” kicks off Dormarion in a familiar fashion with an acoustic intro that quickly turns into a full-on rock explosion good enough to prompt numerous replays before jumping into the never-slowing “Empathetic People.”
This isn’t the first time Telekinesis has featured the use of keyboards and synths, however they do take up a larger slice of the sonic template here than ever before. “Ghosts and Creatures” is an atmospheric keyboard-driven track with a nod toward 12 Desperate Straight Lines’ “Patterns” (although much livelier) and “Ever True” is a catchy ‘80s throwback complete with a drum machine.
“Lean On Me”—a sunny, upbeat track about being in love—showcases a rock-solid rhythm section that doesn’t stop bouncing once it starts and a guitar solo reminiscent of the fictitious band The Wonders, and on an album full of standout songs, “Little Hill” reaches above the rest as an example of Lerner’s ability to craft infectious melodies and rhythms on various instrument and tie them together seamlessly.
Dormarion should leave returning fans satisfied and new listeners hooked as Lerner continues to refine his skills and churn out strong albums.