The Intelligence’s new Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me begins with “I Like L.A.” and, in a way, the song tells the story of the band. Lars Finberg’s sardonic lyrics and nicotine-stained voice seem to belong in Seattle, where he started the band in 1999, but he recently moved to Los Angeles.
The song about his new home begins with Finberg singing and playing guitar on top of an apparently malfunctioning drum machine, sounding like he was recorded on a cassette that had accidentally gone through the wash. This extremely lo-fi approach was standard operating procedure for the first ten years of the Intelligence, but the band took a turn toward professionalism with 2010’s Males. After 1 minute and 45 seconds (about the average song length on prior Intelligence releases), Finberg begins counting. Ultimately, he counts up to 44. It takes him a minute and a half. At that point, the music stops and he says, “Ladies and gentlemen, the band.” Real drums kick in, along with a new-wave organ and a biting guitar. It sounds great.
And then you think, Wait. What band does he mean? Finberg is currently a member of the Oh Sees and Wounded Lion and has two versions of the Intelligence lined up, one in L.A. and one in Seattle. Everybody’s Got it Easy was recorded with both lineups and with Finberg solo, or playing with friends like Kelley Stoltz. Perhaps as a result, songs range in style from garage rock to post-punk to bossa nova. Still, they are all good, and for the most part they are held together thematically by Finberg’s wicked wit. He’ll bring you the rock, but he’ll make you wait for it.
THE INTELLIGENCE: Soda Bar, Tuesday, July 24, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $7.