The press kit to this album nails it: Dormarion, it says, “is the sound of a man figuring out exactly who he is.” Give the guy who wrote this a raise, or maybe fire him, because the problem with this album is that it can’t figure out what it is. Michael Benjamin Lerner, the man and the band who is Telekinesis is wildly talented, but also wildly unfocused. There’s no thematic or sonic line, straight or crooked, that you can draw to connect the songs on this album.
The first song shows the schizophrenia already. “Powerlines” begins with an acoustic, almost Feist-sounding, strum-sing-along, but then shifts pretty abruptly to a loud anthemic rocker. It takes you by surprise, but it’s a bad surprise. It gets a little better after repeated listening (the shock gets less shocking) but that’s partly because the Feist-intro comes to seem unimportant. You come to wish it wasn’t there. You just want the rocker.
And that’s a symptom of what plagues the album. At each fork in the road, instead of going one way or another, Lerner takes the fork. If Telekinesis wanted to go all acoustic (the Plain White T’s sounding “Symphony”), or subtly emo (the promising yet muddy “Ghosts and Creatures”, or all 80’s synth pop (as in the Duran-Duran-ish “Ever True”), or shiny pop (the twangly “Lean on Me”) we’d at least be able to put a label on this thing and categorize it and judge it accordingly. Instead, it’s all over the place.
But demanding consistency shouldn’t prevent giving credit where it’s due. “Wires” is a haunting Cure-inspired miniature with a great beat, and “Laissez-Faire” fills all of its one minute and fifty-five seconds with a delicious and full sound. Even “Powerlines,” apart from its ill-fitting beginning and painful lyrics, has some great hooks. One wished that the album would have been full of songs like “Wires” or “Laissez-Faire,” so that we could settle in on a groove. We get both, and the album ends up being less than the sum of its parts.