Friday, October 19, 2012

TEAM GENIUS Pop Songs, Loud Songs, Whiskey Songs

I like Team Genius before even hearing a note of music. First there’s the Brooklyn band’s name: us-against-the-world solidarity allied with supreme confidence. Then there’s the three EPs worth of themed songs released this month as a prelude to their sophomore long-player "New York Songs" in November. Confident AND prolific. Although coming from Brooklyn, that hot-bed of zeitgeist-shaping new grooves, the six-piece cheerily ransack 80s and 90s alt-pop over the chronological arc of these three simultaneous releases.

“Pop Songs”, about moving to New York and “young things on the loose with big plans, sly smiles and a good buzz”, is all jittery and clipped, like the moment when new wave tipped into radio-friendly pop: The Cars-like choppy guitar riffs and drum machine of ‘Making Myths’ and the partying-meets-politics filibuster of ‘Ronald Reagan’s Cousin’ fading into the more elegiac regret of ‘Love And Love Songs’.

“Loud Songs” is “the noisy peak” where more partying is the order to the day (or night?) and where a female-sung, straight-ahead pogoing cover of ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’ fits in perfectly. The mood here is all yee-haw with a dose of paranoia: the Bloodshot Records cowpunk of ‘Everything’s Alright’ or the gleeful alt-rock chant of ‘This Is Stupendous’. And then finally “Whiskey Songs” is the hangover. Call me a maudlin old sot but I think this is my favourite of the three EPs. It still has the alt-pop choruses and swing of the other two collections but now with a darker world-view steeped in the bitterness of experience and drink-soaked wisdom. ‘Seven Years’ uses drawn-out organ chords and ‘Chase You Down’ rich trumpet volleys to deepen the sense of come-down before the defiant, ultimate not-regretting it song ‘I Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ closes the journey with a repeated refrain of the title that becomes louder, more intense and angrier over whining guitars. Sobering.

High calibre power-pop party songs with a sombre depth behind the painted smile from Team Genius here – it leaves me wondering what they will have to say on "New York Songs" the album that they haven't already said here?

Team Genius Pop Songs / Loud Songs  / Whiskey Songs [BUY]

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