Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record label: In the Red Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Experimental Rock, Noise-Rock
At a recent Beach Boys concert I attended, the most enthusiastic crowd response-- measured by the number of couples dancing romantically, dudes in Hawaiian shirts bro-ing down, and solo hippie wig-outs-- came not for "Good Vibrations", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", or even "California Girls". No, it was for fuckin' "Kokomo". No doubt, the sight of 20- and 60-year-olds alike happily groovin' to the same escapist, bourgeoise-fantasy jingle would've mortified Lars Finberg; the thirtysomething brainstrust of the Intelligence seems to hold boomers and Millennials with equal contempt, if only because both groups appear to be having more fun than him.
The Intelligence specialize in a certain form of songwriting that falls on the mid-point of a spectrum between Elvis Costello and Greg Cartwright. It’s a perfectly laid-back brand of Memphis punk if it were to take on old-school power-pop and the band wields it brilliantly. Unfortunately, only some of the songs on Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me can match the work of Costello or Cartwright, but it’s still enjoyable to hear them try.
An opening track sets the tone for the rest of the album, or at least that’s the general expectation. For The Intelligence’s eighth studio album, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, the concept of a slow-burning introduction is taken to a new level. “I Like LA” is definitely an oddity, with thrift store Casio drum machine rhythms and frontman Lars Finberg counting up to 44 and intoning “Ladies and gentlemen, the band” before they unleash some fun-filled dissonance.
Los Angeles is usually synonymous with smoggy air, but in typically perverse fashion, Lars Finberg's move to the City of Angels resulted in the cleanest, most focused-sounding Intelligence album in some time. Everybody's Got It Easy But Me blows away much of the fuzz and fog that hovered over Males and to a lesser extent Fake Surfers and reconnects Finberg and crew with the strange and sprightly garage pop of their earlier work on "Hippy Provider," where the chorus mostly consists of Finberg shouting "Hey man, is that freedom rock? Turn it up!," and "I Like L. A.