The sophomore effort by Telekinesis isn’t bad. Not by a long shot. Each of the 12 tracks that make up the album is a quick nugget of melodic guitar riffs and driving drum beats. The problem comes along once it ends. Unfortunately, 12 Desperate Straight Lines is average and forgettable for the most part. The songs bleed together, all sharing tones, vocal stylings, and tempos that are far too similar to leave distinct impressions. The riffs are somewhat catchy at first but by the time you reach the end of the record, a lack of innovation will have you struggling to pay attention.
The opening duo are the best examples of how Telekinesis’ simple, short formula could work. “You Turn Clear In The Sun” kicks off with rapid, acoustic strumming while reverberating vocals fill out the space around it. A rumbling bass and clacking drums complete the package while a touch of ringing Christmas tree bells make for a nice, background addition that adds something special. No doubt about it, this is a cheery number. It almost sounds like a cross between Coldplay and The Killers, though it appears more layered than either of those bands. “Please Ask For Help” throws back to 80’s New Wave guitar arpeggios. “Im not going to let you down/but Im not going to help you up,” sings Michael Benjamin Lerner as a pounding beat blasts out of the speakers. A simple, repeating chorus line creates the perfect pop hook, making this track an ideal single.
The other highlights occur when things are switched up, even if it’s just a small change. “Palm Of Your Hand” kicks the tempo up a few clicks and cuts the already short lengths down to a minute and a half. Lerner uses this briefness as a challenge to push himself. Everything is tighter and quickly switches between a strong verse and a crashing chorus. More explosions of energy like this are badly needed throughout the album. “Car Crash” also moves a little outside the norm, featuring high-pitched synths that immediately catch your attention. The rising guitars that follow a pumped-up chorus also help to put this song among best of the group.
Some tracks try to innovate but fall short in the end. The intro for “50 Ways” brings to mind a heavier version of early Weezer but the riffs are far from special. “Dirty Thing” is as light as air, mixing in some surf rock elements that ultimately go nowhere. The biggest disappointment is “Fever Chill”. It starts as a mellow affair that centers on an acoustic guitar and distant vocals. Keeping that type of stripped back approach would have been a switch, but instead it segues back into a generic electric riff.
12 Desperate Straight Lines isn’t terrible by any means. There are some good melodic tunes throughout the record. The more innovative tracks are definitely worth a download. However, a good portion of the album is basically filler. The songs will leave your head the moment they end. Next time around, Telekinesis should make a more concise record rather than making short snapshots. If he gives listeners something to sink their teeth into, they’ll definitely be more willing to stay for the whole meal.