Not an Easy Listen
Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, the seventh studio album from Seattle-based indie rockers The Intelligence, is permeated with the same kind of somewhat-whiny youthful pop-punk that its title implies. While the band has found its niche writing energetic, uptempo tunes like “Evil is Easy” and the scatterbrained “Hippy Provider,” the songs seem to lack any real fervor or verve.
The Intelligence gambols through a slew of nondescript tracks on the album—”The Entertainer,” “I’m Closed,” and “(They Found Me in the Back of) The Galaxy” pass by without making much of a lasting impression, as does the tongue-in-cheek “Reading and Writing About Partying.” The album’s best moments come when The Intelligence steps away from indulging in the type of half-witty, ironic math rock that characterizes the opening track, “I Like LA.” While it starts off with a percussive beat, slightly dissonant guitar chords, and frontman Lars Finberg’s off-kilter, droll and dry vocals, the song falls apart when Finberg resorts to simply counting to 44 over a haze of lo-fi guitars.
The album shines when the band broadens its style, pulling in elements from different genres and time periods, eschewing formulaic pop-punk structures. “Techno Tuesday” is an acoustic, summery lament for friends who’ve gone away—a rare moment of maturity on the album. The band breaks out acoustic guitars as well on “Dim Limelights,” which ambles along with maracas providing light, lackadaisical percussion. The most striking moment, however, is “Little Town Flirt,” which takes on a ’60s Motown doo-wop spirit amid syncopated rhythms. Finberg’s vocals are at their most melodic here, complemented by high, tinkling soprano background vocals.
It’s difficult, after six albums, to break new ground and take musical risks. Perhaps The Intelligence just needs a little push in the right direction.