The Intelligence Males

Only a year after the excellent Fake Surfers, Lars Finberg returns with another loveable new record with post-A Frames, lo-fi, art punk project the Intelligence. Along with his reliably charming sardonic wit, he's carting brighter songs, augmented by snappier melodies and tighter percussion. He may have played in some of the weirdest noise punk bands from Seattle, but with this last duo of albums, Finberg is growing into the grown-up Mark E. Smith aura that's surrounded him for years. Lots of strange, sharp guitars take their time laying the groundwork for some brooding, white noise atmospherics on album closer "Males," while the armchair vitriol of valley-girl diatribe "Like Like Like Like Like Like Like" and the new wave warble of "Estate Sales" are Finberg at his best. There's some vocal experimentation throughout and though it may be the work of a maturing artist, the vintage croon that offsets the unsettling string bends in "The Beetles" ensures we'll always somewhat know what we're getting with Finberg, and that's definitely not a bad thing. (In The Red)