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Telekinesis: Ad Infinitum

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Telekinesis: Ad Infinitum

What’s a songwriting drummer to do when he puts away the sticks in favor of vintage synthesizers and drum machines?

For Michael Lerner, making music with machinery hasn’t dampened or reoriented his melodic gifts. Exploring songs from a different angle and becoming engrossed in learning and toying with his new collection of synthesizers clearly resulted in more free-flowing creativity from Lerner. But on Telekinesis’ fourth album, the synthesizers serve to refocus rather than reinvent his songwriting.

Electronic pop music is nothing new in 2015. Lerner may have raked in a bit of inspiration from touchstone albums like Depeche Mode’s gold-selling debut Speak & Spell and New Order’s Power Corruption & Lies that are a generation old, but nothing on Ad Infinitum is chasing those same trends. Telekinesis began leaning more than a little in the direction of Ad Infinitum on 2013’s Dormarion, so at the top of the sequence, songs like “Falling (In Dreams)” and “Sylvia” work as introductions to the synthesizers than departure points.

Lead single “In a Future World” is one of the strongest Telekinesis songs to date, regardless of style or instrumental building blocks. It has playfulness, dark edges, a propulsive beat and uplifting melodies—in short, a fullness that doesn’t simply come from manipulating a synthesizer. While it may not be easy to draw a straight line from “In a Future World” and the New Order-esque “Edgewood” directly through to great Telekinesis tracks of the past, like “Car Crash,” there’s still an essential quality of Lerner’s that shines through.

The power-pop Telekinesis only truly fades away on the heavily electronic “It’s Not Yr Fault” and the stripped-down, ambient-inspired title suite, but on both ends of the spectrum, it’s a pleasure to hear Lerner discovering something new.

Telekinesis has excelled across three albums with noted indie rockers as producers—Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jim Eno (Spoon)—and by taking the reins himself as he pushes out in a new direction, Lerner signals an eagerness to challenge himself on multiple levels. While not entirely experimental, Ad Infinitum explores darker and more mysterious territory than Telekinesis has in the past, a fitting direction for this more mechanical journey.