Based on how catchy and mordantly funny Vintage Future is, it seems that the more discontented Lars Finberg is, the better it is for the Intelligence's music. As the band moved farther away from its lo-fi roots, Finberg and company sometimes struggled to maintain their off-kilter punk charm, but Vintage Future lets the abrasiveness that used to dominate their music emerge in its acerbic meditations on failure. The title track sums up the album's bleakly hilarious viewpoint, as Finberg imagines a world "where people get gutted and refuse the suture" as sometime Thee Oh Sees vocalist Brigid Dawson coos in the background (along with Dawson, the album's many guests include Thee Oh Sees' Petey Dammit, Sic Alps' Mike Donovan, and Wounded Lion's Brad Eberhard). Within that world, Finberg riffs on decidedly vintage ideas and sounds: "I want a true love that I can step out on/And that I can still count on/While she waits/With a warm plate," he sneers on "Sex." Meanwhile, though "Whip My Valet" has a title that could be stolen from an Adam Ant B-side, its herky-jerky guitars come straight from Devo, and "We Refuse to Pay the Dues" is quintessential Intelligence from its lanky melody to its jaundiced view of the music business. Indeed, this is one of Vintage Future's richest seams of inspiration, with "Platinum Janitor"'s spot-on details ("Shitty guitars/Touring in cars...You just don't care/And neither do we") reaffirming just how finely honed the Intelligence's snark is this time around. The band also makes time for its more eclectic side on songs like "Dieu Merci Pour la Fixation de la Machine à Coudre," a balmy fusion of surf and flamenco that has to be one of the Intelligence's prettiest moments, and "Cleaning Lady," which adds an eerie twist to the album's existential malaise with cheap yet spooky-sounding beats and synths (as well as lyrics like "Life's looking at you and it just won't blink"). Even with these musical tangents, Vintage Future is one of the Intelligence's most focused albums, and their most clever and satisfying music in some time.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares