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. The impression left by “I Like LA” is that The Intelligence is having fun while simultaneously entrenched in self-awareness, and the message is to throw out any preconceived expectations.
With A-Frames, Lars Finberg was at the forefront of the post-punk revival, and that influence passed on to The Intelligence as well. “Reading and Writing About Partying” is one of their catchiest songs yet, with its sharp guitar licks gliding along the genre’s oft-beaten path, but with a skip in its step. Equally pogo-able but less straightforward is “Hippy Provider”, where rapid-fire xylophones drive the short, jagged urgency into a frantic fury that plows right into the quirky punk “Evil Is Easy”.
The Intelligence accelerate the DeLorean to 88 and journey to the ’60s for a cover of Del Shannon’s “Little Town Flirt”, bringing Shannon Shaw of Hunx/Punk and Shannon and the Clams along for the ride. Yes, it’s Shannon cubed, and Shaw’s snarl tears a hole into the oh-this-again trend of paying homage to Spector-era girl group heartbreak. Even more impressive is penultimate track “Sunny Backyard”. For this tribute to The Fall, downright nastily abrasive guitars wallow in filth and feast upon all the magic mushrooms before surrendering to pandemonium while Finberg howls along like Mark E. Smith.
Compared to their previous efforts, the retro stylings of The Intelligence are more diverse than the standard post-punk/garage rock revival outfit. Although Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me is notably less frenzied and raw than the band’s past decade of output, The Intelligence has not lost their edge, despite some of the slower, acoustic-based numbers. Rather, they’ve created an often thrilling voyage that defies repetition and predictability.
Essential Tracks: “Sunny Backyard”, “The Entertainer”