Telekinesis

Ad Infinitum

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Michael Benjamin Lerner's fifth outing under the Telekinesis moniker finds the power pop-loving musical polymath putting away his Cheap Trick albums and diving headfirst into the crowded waters of the early 21st century new wave/synth pop revival. Lerner hit a wall (creatively) after 2013's primarily guitar-dominated Dormarion, succumbing to the throes of artistic torpor that so often follow a period of prolificacy, but instead of giving up and finding a more respectable career, he decided to jump-start his rock & roll heart by investing in a bunch of vintage synths and drum machines. However, instead of concentrating on the more dance-oriented aspects of the 2010s '80s revival, Lerner goes full-on Thomas Dolby, Flock of Seagulls, OMD, and Tubeway Army. Sonically, Ad Infinitum feels true to the era, but Lerner's sweet tooth for melody keeps things from ever getting too icy or over-stylized. Opener "Falling (In Dreams)" sets the tone, with a frosty two-chord verse that eventually gives way to a lush (and aptly dreamy) heartland refrain that suggests Soft Cell by way of Wilco, and that penchant for pairing electro-austerity with power pop acumen fuels most of the album's strongest moments like "Sylvia," the road trip-ready "Courtesy Phone," and the soaring "Edgewood," the latter of which suggests what the Killers might have sounded like had they formed in 1984 instead of the early 2000s. Lerner's easy and reliable delivery is the glue that keeps everything together, and while there's little doubt that Ad Infinitum was conceived and created during a time of artistic upheaval, it retains all of the warmth and humanity that's made his prior outings shine. Even when he starts mining Brian Eno territory, as is the case with the elegiac, Alphaville-inspired, two-part title track, it's obvious that his era allegiances lean much further toward the John Hughes end of the spectrum than they do Joy Division.

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