"Stubbins, what would you do if you had two heads?"
"I'd join a circus, sir."
--Dr. Doolittle's query to young Tommy Stubbins regarding the Pushmi-Pullyu, 

It has been said that internal conflict is a classic spark for creative work, the psychic kerosene that fuels people to make things. If this is so, The Intelligence's songwriter/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Lars Finberg reigns as the Duke of Dichotomies, the Prince of Polarity, and the King of Contrariety, even evidenced in the title of the band's new album, "Vintage Future." Finberg's crispy-fried, carbon-black-humored lyrics on "Vintage Future" wrestle stark dualities for breakfast, while you and I are still groggy and contemplating choices no more taxing than having sugar or Splenda in our morning coffee. But it's a battle that doesn't seem to produce a victor nor has particular hope in even attaining a draw. It's life presented as a mental Sisyphus vs. the mountain struggle, when as the boulder rolls down the steep, craggy hill yet another time all one can do is offer an exhausted, frantic laugh and begin to roll it back up once again, even if you'd really rather watch TV...and where it's furthermore and entirely possible you constructed the mountain all yourself. 

Did I mention all these conflicts are set to incredibly appealing music? As we hurtle forward into the now, "Vintage Future" shines throughout with sharp performances by Dave Hernandez on guitar, keys, and vocals, Pete Capponi on drums, Drew Church on bass, and very able additional work by former Thee Oh Sees members Brigid Dawson and Petey Dammit, Sic Alps' Mike Donovan, The Mallard's K. Dylan Edrich, and co-producer/studio whiz Chris Woodhouse, altogether very fine people to work with. Let us place the needle on the outer rim of the orange vinyl 12" and begin.

SEX: Finberg decides to begin "Vintage Future" with a jackhammer beat and knife-slash guitar that tears open a brutally self-aware relationship confessional box, filled with indecision, entitlement, self-loathing, lust, love, and all kinds of blame, self- and otherwise. I can't even count all the Hail Marys and Our Fathers you'd need to resolve this, especially because I'm not Catholic. 

NOCTURNAL ADMISSIONS: A spooky slap-back echo chug-chug down the road has Finberg giving what would not be considered a ringing endorsement of pursuing a musical career, a theme that goes throughout "Vintage Future" and most of Finberg's work, actually. Hey, you try starting out in music exactly when digital music comes into being and simultaneously makes your work more accessible and of no monetary value! Hop in the van, kids, it's fun!

CLEANING LADY: An airbrake-release double-beat keeps rigid time over creepy guitar and keyboards, lending a sinister air and harkening back to The Intelligence's earliest work, when it was just Lars, a fear of death, and a lot of instruments in a room. 

WHIP MY VALET: I gasped with delight to hear the machine-gun rapid fire drum opening and crunchy clipped chords here, and am grateful it's under two minutes long because I anticipate uncontrollable pogo dancing to this in the future.

WE REFUSE TO PAY THE DUES: Relentlessly catchy, with soaring shiny guitars, a singalong chorus, and head-boppin' riff, you forget as you are singing along that the song seems to be the narrative of a fantastically-snobby-yet-failed band. Easily The Intelligence's most broadly-accessible and commercial song ever, the irony of all this is why we love The Intelligence.

PLATINUM JANITOR: The band narrative continues with a slow descending guitar string scrape, as our lyrical combo gets further jolted by musical realities in "a great big world with nothing but yous," tormented by "shitty guitars/touring in cars/wet-heaving/playing through Peaveys." But, in considering the life alternatives, at least "it's not a broken mop handle or handcuffed to a cop." This is close to the apex of optimism on "Vintage Future."

TOURISTS: An island-pace acoustic guitar is embellished by pebble-drop synths and the flat patter of cheap electro-drums, pretty and strange, with Finberg reminiscing over a past love with the realization that he is now is a "tourist" rather than a "native" in the relationship. 

DIEU MERCI POUR LE FIXATION DE LA MACHINE A COUDRE: Wait...STRINGS? Lyrics that are straight-up in romantic swoon mode? WHO IS THIS GUY?? The actual aforementioned apex of lyrical optimism comes here, with "I think I almost feel right." Whoa. This song reminds me to tell you that the production values throughout "Vintage Future" are also swoon-worthy, with a warmth and clarity that gives the songs a sonic breadth that is welcomed. The vocals are clean and confident, even if the words can't quite say, "I feel fine.

BONUS! The title of this song is clearly in French, and I thought it was a straight translation of an earlier Intelligence song, "Thank God For Fixing The Tape Machine," found on the "Fake Surfers" album. Well, I ran it through three different online translation bots, and this is what I got:


ROMANS: This is one of my favorite songs from The Intelligence's live set of the last couple of years, and I've been very eager to hear it recorded and HERE IT IS! It begins all stealthy and underground, and then explodes into a fury of noise that is breathtaking, eventually reeling back enough to allow us to sip some water and perhaps procure a fan. The lyrics are either too opaque or too straightforward for me to analyze, but I can mention that the band did get all their gear, clothes, and personal effects jacked while in Rome awhile back, and I bet this leaves an impression on a guy, yep.

VINTAGE FUTURE: The album closes with its beginning, the title of the record. A sweet duet from Lars and Brigid, where we are sent off metaphorically with a jetpack to visit the Jetsons, but actually end up driving a new Mustang to the mall to buy a machine-weathered "industrial loft style" coffee table for $3050.00, or something like that, or maybe nothing like that. The last thing you hear as the needle tracks to the playout groove is a robo-voice stiffly crying out, "But I was just learning how to love!" and all the regret and blame from "Sex" circles back, reminding us that a vintage future is one that keeps clawing us back to the past.

To be or not to be? To be in a band or not to be in a band? To be in a relationship or not be in a relationship, or be in a relationship and wish you weren't but still are, or not be in one and wish you were in the one you used to not want to be in when you were in it? Hell, don't ask me...ask the Sultan of the Scales, Lars Finberg. Actually, don't ask that guy, 'cause he's got songs to write. But do listen to "Vintage Future," available on CD, vinyl LP, FLAC, and MP3 from In The Red Records, Amazon, iTunes, Midheaven, and all other cool places to buy music, available September 25th, with immediate pre-order.

"Finberg, what would you do if you had two heads?"
"I'd start a band, sir."