Telekinesis’ eponymous (plus exclamation point) debut album is a gem full of simple, straight-ahead tuneage and dumb-happy lyrics, channeling Rivers Cuomo’s torn-windbreaker angst while remaining true to the band’s rocking Midwestern pop roots. Major labels once signed acts like this by the busload before irony and sarcasm took over.
The Plimsouls, Cheap Trick, and Shoes turned the guitar-bass-drums arrangement into platinum, and it wasn’t until years later that Cuomo and Weezer resuscitated the genre. Telekinesis, basically a vehicle for singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Michael Benjamin Lerner, serves up a plethora of head-bobbing tunes such as “Look to the East,” on which Lerner works out his snare like a kid on his mom’s pots and pans, and “All of a Sudden.” The musicality is just north of the garage, and his boyish voice, which really drives the material, is utterly devoid of pretense.
If your dad grew up on The Kinks and Dave Clark Five, well, you can give him this record to let him know that you were paying attention back in the day. Twentysomething Lerner may soon find himself in a bathrobe trying to pen another Pet Sounds. Yes, his stripped-down project has that kind of ambition beneath its otherwise lighthearted exterior.
There are only a couple of stumbles, especially when the sad bastard in him comes to surface (check out “I Saw Lightning”). But for about 35 minutes he keeps your feet tapping and your brain thinking of that cute chick with the pigtails you used to know. Challenge someone to listen to “Coast of California” with you and see who can go the longest without shimmying his shoulders. It’ll be a short contest.