Monday, 1 October 2012

Team Genius - Pop Songs, Loud Songs & Whiskey Songs EPs

EPs reviewed by KevW

It's a busy end to the year for Brooklyn indie-rock types Team Genius. They've got plenty of songs alright, but where some less adventurous bands might organize a sensible release schedule and spread things out a little, this madcap collective have decided that they're going to release three EPs on one day, followed by a full album of separate material a month later. An insane idea? Probably. They're essentially putting all their eggs in one basket, so, let's see what they've got.

Pop Songs

Beginning with recent free download single 'Making Myths' is a good way to ensure that 'Pop Songs' gets off to a cracking start, its simple repetitive melody and scratchy guitars are a classic combination and work wonderfully here, especially when the jubilant chorus hits and some horns join in, immediately lifting the song from good to great. It's catchy, contagious and hard to follow. But they've only just begun. The uplifting poppy punk of 'Ronald Reagan's Cousin' is irresistible and bounds around like an overexcited puppy, brimming with energy. Things take ever such a slightly more rocky turn on the synth driven new-wave of 'Home', it's less immediate, but only just. Their formula of simple melodies is again the secret here, "simple" doesn't always mean "easy" so hats off to them for getting things so right. The first in this trilogy ends with some post-punk in the shape of  'Love And Love Songs'. This one doesn't grab you straight away, it takes a few spins to begin to burrow its way into your brain, yet when it does you'll be happy to have it resting there. Part one is a definite thumbs up.

Stream the EP in full

Loud Songs

As the name suggests this quartet pack a bit more of a punch, the pounding 'Everything's Alright' is a distant cousin of The Gaslight Anthem. They might have cranked the guitars up a notch but the melodies are still of the earworm variety and the brass and synths add a lightness that makes this no less accessible than 'Pop Songs'. A neat cover of Plastic Bertrand's 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' comes next and they manage to nail it. It does the trick of providing instant familiarity without deviating from their sound, and the female vocal makes a refreshing change that could prove a masterstroke given the sheer volume of songs these guys are releasing. 'All Ours' has its foot to the floor too, while it's not a hundred-mile-an-hour ride, the high tempo prevents attention being diverted, a singalong chorus and grand ending doesn't do any harm either. Maybe the title of 'This Is Stupendous' is more apt than intended, as more pounding drums and chugging guitars carry yet more hook-laden melodies through to the climax of another great set of tunes.

Stream the EP in full

Whiskey Songs

What is this? Slacking off? The final installment (until the new album next month) contains just the three songs and finds Team Genius in a more reflective mood. It sounds like these songs were written after a few shots had been consumed. Not because of any sloppiness, this is another fine trio, but in the more introspective nature of the lyrics and the self-depreciation that can come with having one too many. "I'm a liar and I'm full of shit, and I do believe I've had enough of it" goes 'Seven Years' in what is the most stately song on any of these EPs. On 'Chase You Down' the monotonous strum of the guitar is offset nicely by the brass section who've done a stellar job throughout, and what begins as a reasonably routine song ends on a high. Finally the maudlin start to 'I Wouldn't Change A Thing' indicates that the party's over and it's time for bed, ready to face the morning after the night before with a defiant message. It's almost an indie 'My Way' and is a fitting way to bring a close to this very fine trilogy. Well done Team Genius, you've completed the hat-trick, you get to keep the match ball.
Stream the EP in full

Team Genius' website

Buy the EPs

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