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If you can imagine an alternate universe where Velvet Crush and Emitt Rhodes made an album together, you'll be glad to know someone paid that astral plane a visit and brought back Effluxion, the 2019 album from one-man pop ensemble Telekinesis (aka Michael Benjamin Learner according to his driver's license). While his previous effort, 2015's Ad Infinitum, found him diving into the deep end of vintage synth pop, Effluxion sounds like a return to a more organic form as Learner picks up his guitars, piano, and drumsticks and overdubs himself into a pretty impressive rock & roll combo. The songs on Effluxion range from the measured and atmospheric opener "Effluxion" to the full-on rock & roll of "A Place in the Sun" (an exercise in classic-style power pop where you can practically hear the skinny tie), with stops along the way for sunny acoustic numbers ("Running Like a River"), tricked-up sunshine pop ("How Do I Get Rid of Sunlight"), and nervy, uptempo post-punk ("Feel It in Your Bones"). (He also didn't entirely get the Ad Infinitum experiment out of his system, as revealed on the synth-heavy final track "Out for Blood.") Like Emitt Rhodes, Learner is a talented songwriter who can seemingly generate great melodies and killer hooks at will, and has a voice to match. And like Velvet Crush, he's not afraid to put some muscle behind his music when the material calls for it, though he also has a healthy appreciation for dynamics. And unlike so many artists in the pop underground, Learner has a reasonably mature and thoughtful perspective on life and relationships, which means you can enjoy his music and still feel like a grown up, if that's something you enjoy. Telekinesis isn't often cited as one of America's best and smartest pop acts, but Effluxion demonstrates Learner lives up to that billing, and this LP is a real treat for power pop obsessives and anyone who likes some melodies with their rock & roll.

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