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- Everybody's Got It Easy But Me by The Intelligence
9/10 Mike Staff review, 31 May 2012
Fucking yes! I love these guys and it’s always a treat for me when they drop something new. I was actually starting to fear they’d split up because it’s been like two years since they last released something. Not something I’d normally worry about but they’d put out three records in just over a year prior to that so it really seemed like a long period of silence.
Anyway, now they’re back to show us what they’ve been up to - undoubtedly their most accessible record to date, adapting their obnoxiously playful weirdness into a collection of lively garage pop numbers which, like so many of their contemporaries, take their cues from the Nuggets-style ‘60s garage bands and the bright-sounding indie rock of the ‘90s for an exuberant rush of quality tunes.
Where previously their individual tracks would have seemed a little lost outside the context of the overarching weirdness of the albums they were contained on, these are essentially mostly catchy standalone singles, with Lars Finberg’s (also notably of the A-Frames) voice sounding more like Lee Ranaldo than ever. There’s still plenty of obnoxiously weird touches...there’s an ethereal trumpet honking away at the end of ‘Techno Tuesday’ and when opener ‘I Like LA’ closes with him monotonously counting bars out loud - 44 of them - it’s like a challenge to the listener to pay attention or fuck off.
The difference here is that the poppier numbers have been refined into slacker pop genius. The Sonic Youth-meets-Enon wonky bounce of ‘The Entertainer’ is totally sweet, while single ‘(They Found Me In The Back Of) The Galaxy’ is literally perfect - the only recent garage pop singles which have drawn my obsession quite so instantly are the King Khan and the Shrines one from the Mikal Cronin split and the Babies one from the His Clancyness split. It’s really that good. Possibly better. There’s a girl-fronted doo-wop number, ‘Little Town Flirt’, which is also great enough to warrant its own special mention.
Overall the feel I’m getting from this record is that they’ve taken their wonky garage-pop sound and added a sprinkle of soul-pop and most enjoyable parts from their best contemporaries - King Khan, Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, The Babies, Segall, Cronin et al - for one of the most perfect albums this modern ‘60s garage psych revival has spit out to date. Pick it up, then get involved with their sizeable, surprising and consistently wonderful back catalogue. Essential summer slacker goodness. MUCH more pop than anything they’ve done before, but if you think you don’t want an Intelligence album that’s basically full of infectiously catchy singles then I think you’re probably mental. That or you just don’t like garage rock.
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