With more and more blasted lo-fi nerd bait polluting the record bins and stolen-music blogs these days, it's gotten increasingly difficult to sort out the real deal from the hangers-on. But Seattle's Intelligence certainly warrant a second look. Former A-Frames drummer Lars Finberg's bad-times band live in a kind of post-apocalyptic version of the Nuggets
box, but also not far from the Fall's neighborhood.
His deadpan honk of a singing voice calls to mind a less caustic Mark E. Smith, and he arranges the 12 quick songs with a gift for effective repetitive hooks and reductive structures. As for sonics, the Intelligence trade the now too-familiar tape overload and speaker buzz for more vaguely industrial tools, with metallic and clattering drums, grainy delay, and tinny guitars giving the songs a kind of alien detachment and coldness.
Yet the spirit in the performances (not to mention a pair of sprightly acoustic-driven songs) brings enough good humor to the table that we're not left with an unfeeling slab of affected despair. You never get the sense that Finberg and company are posing or donning black eyeliner. They're just reminding us that though playing hooky art punk may be a blast, the weather is still awfully dreary in the Pacific Northwest and there's nothing they can do about it.