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Music Review: The Serious Geniuses – You Can Steal The Riffs, But You Can’t Steal The Talent

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The Serious Geniuses are a light punk trio from Boston, and they put out one album a few years ago called You Can Steal The Riffs, But You Can’t Steal The Talent on Kiss Of Death Records and I liked it immediately upon hearing it. It was pleasant, crunchy, poppy indie rock that wasn’t too forceful but had enough kick to it. The album reminded me of Blink 182 or Sum 41, but a bit more indie rock.

The Serious GeniusesThis album is not outstanding and it’s kind of old sounding, and maybe that’s what gives it some nostalgic charm. Even the press materials with this album say it sounds like old Chapel Hill bands, Archers of Loaf and such, and I can see some Merge Records or Deep Elm Records influences in the band. It feels Superchunk-ish and a bit reminiscent of old Boston light punk indie rockers Six Going On Seven, who relied on a more moody and “emo” delivery, whereas The Serious Geniuses lean a bit more punk, with a dash of Gorilla Biscuits‘ sloppy fury and melody. The songs on this record are catchy and played well but they don’t pummel you or throw a smile on your face. You could probably listen to it on repeat for a while though and be fine.

The Serious Geniuses have an energetic sound with words that are chantable, like the lyrics “change the station, cause everyone says that” on the song “Station” and “stick my tongue firmly in my cheek and repeat” on the song “Unique.” The guitars are barreling and jangly, while the bass lines and drum beats are tough and rooted, which keeps the melodies driving as the band pops out pleasant and somewhat predictable tunes. Again, a mishmash of other bands rise to mind as I listen to the album, including Rye Coalition and At The Drive-In.

Also, it sounds like a less powerful Rancid but not as hyper or cocky, and Chisel, but without Ted Leo’s high-pitched and fun, cheerleading voice carrying everyone. So the sound from this band is a bit too generic and derivative, taking pieces from all the bands mentioned above but not making it unique or indispensable enough, which is probably why they went on indefinite hiatus and never came back. But hear some of their old stuff here if you’re interested.

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