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***LARS FINBERG, confirmed genius guy and poet laureate of sunken 21st century Rock, acts as manager in perpetuity of THE INTELLIGENCE, primary vehicle for his prolific creative swirl and a project that has taken on new shapes across myriad trials and shifts. The project began in his Seattle bedroom—a lad and his Tascam cassette 8 track—with the classic Boredom & Terror and has now landed in his Los Angeles studio apartment—an urchin and his Tascam digital 12 track—with Lil’ Peril, a new album that finds Finberg 1000% back at the controls. Over the course of 11 albums (!), The Intelligence has established a backbone that boogies through revolutions, allowing each jam-crammed dispatch to feel and sound admirably unique. The angular sharp shocks heard in earlier years have steadily evolved into the ballooning grooves heard on more recent releases (including Finberg’s recent solo work). Lil’ Peril is a dreamy gamble that captures this current bubbling penchant in The Intelligence’s inaugural homemade mode.
With inspirational templates as far-flung as Les Paul, The Specials, Lee Perry and Mary Ford, Lil’ Peril pulls off the absurd shift “from ‘No-Wave Santana’ to ‘Screamers recorded by Jon Brion”. Playing shoulder parrot to studio engineers has no doubt informed Finberg’s approach to home recording, specifically in how much further he can go without wincing budget-minded eyes staring him down. This is immediately sensed on the opener “Maudlin Agency,” which begins with canned minimal bleep and closes with a full recreation of the “Brass Monkey” hook. These surprise-attack conclusions are a running current throughout the Lil’ Peril’s program and demonstrates that the main lesson Finberg has learned in The Intelligence is to never reel it in. Centerpiece banger “My Work Here Is Dumb” ranks among the finest Intelligence moments existent and an apex in Finberg’s songcraft, boasting a bonkers arrangement and a thematic gnaw that is both brutal and playful. The collection closes with the epic “Soundguys,” a suite cut-up that fuses Can and Steely Dan into one of the most dastardly tunes available for consumption in the plague age. As Finberg himself states, “They may say this is ‘lo-fi’, but I say it’s ‘no-CGI’”. Pressed on red vinyl.