The Intelligences Lars Finberg and Susanna Welbourne
  • Kelly O
  • The Intelligence's Lars Finberg and Susanna Welbourne

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Music was the last Genius Award to go out yesterday, and because Lars Finberg—ringleader of the Intelligence—is in Los Angeles, where he's currently spending a fraction of his time, the plan was to convey the pertinent info via Skype video connection. Trusting man that he is, Finberg left a prior engagement early for what we told him was going to be "a wacky video interview." Turns out, though, that the guy who records with quarter-inch reel-to-reel and melded together his entire first record in his bedroom with a 8-track has an outdated version of Skye and couldn't update it because he doesn't have "an administrator password" for his computer. Finally, we had to call him, but his reception was poor to non-existent. We were able to ascertain that he'd heard of the Genius Awards, and after that, convey that he'd just won one, and after that, what exactly that meant, at which time he started losing it, then the call dropped. Here's what he sent in return seconds later:

We ate some while we impatiently waited for Finberg to fix his Skype
  • Kelly O
  • We ate some cake while impatiently waiting for Finberg to fix his Skype

About the Intelligence sound: It's pop rolled up in a section of carpet and thrown off a bridge into a river of alien sounds, found instruments, and effects pedals. You might not realize it's pop at first listen, what with all bizarro effects, distorted guitars, and cracking drums, but it's there, just under the surface. Brush away all the loud and strange details, and you've got deceptively simple, decidedly brief, and thoroughly catchy songcraft. This stuff is still challenging in a way that doesn't make you want to clasp you hands over your ears and run away.

"I think all our songs need is verse-chorus-verse-chorus-done, at least when I'm writing them," Finberg told Dave Segal in a 2005 interview. "And we've had complaints about them being too short, but I feel like I'm bullshitting [by] putting more stuff in sometimes. Plus, I'm really lazy and if you come up with a bridge or a third part, that can just be another song. Or maybe I'm insecure and just want to get out of there." Whatever the motivation, there's power in that brevity.

And then there are the lyrics. As Christopher Frizzelle wrote here, they're morbid and funny, pointing out the absurdity of every day life without getting jaded or pouty. Take "Estate Sales":

"And when I die in my apartment/And I'm dragged out into the street/All the things I saved up for/Are headed for the rummage sale."

"Estate Sales"

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The Intelligence have followed this program for six albums over the span of seven years now (not to mention countless 7" singles, EPs, and splits with other like-minded bands), and it's earned them a bigger following elsewhere—Paris, New York City—than it has here, so we thought it was time to show them some hometown love. Congrats to the Intelligence!

You'll be hearing a lot more about the Intelligence as we draw closer to the Genius Awards party, which is on Friday, September 16, at the Moore. Find out more about the Stranger Genius Awards, the party, and how to donate to these annual $5,000 arts grants for five Seattle artists here.