When musicians appreciate amateur music, they don’t just listen to a song and judge quality, they hear melodies and structures burgeoning in process, they hear method, and that, in itself, is enough to appreciate and value. People watch amateur porn because the actors are people that could catch an eye through coffee shop windows, people that sit a few rows up in lecture, people that share, at once, allure and the possibility of attainment.
When you see Joe Casey as frontman, you think this guy’s ugly, wonder how many drinks he had to have before he could get up and sing and then you think I, too, am ugly and I’d have to be piss drunk to sing like that, too. Frontman anxiety is endearing, but self-doubt can also interfere with songwriting. This is not Joe Casey, singing “I’ll take that applause because I deserve it” in 2014. In sunglasses, red in the face, pigeon-toed, and awkwardly postured, you follow him because you believe in him like you believe in yourself.
And he’s smart. He’s well read, well versed in both municipal government and angelology. He’s old enough to have opinions that will never change, that ripe age where you probably won’t change your mind ever again. This fits strangely between punk music calipers – it makes sense, but how many punk singers can you name that started at his age?
On The Agent Intellect, we are not hearing a band with something to prove. We are hearing a band bounding somewhere fast. I mean this as the greatest compliment in a world of sophomore slumps and rapidly destroyed attention spans – their best work is ahead of them. The Agent Intellect is even more fulfilled than the amazing Under Color of Official Right – the musicianship that found distinction last year and is now sharpening the blade to a pointed direction, the lyrics reach new heights of sophistication and lose none of the sui generis of their daringness, the grace with which the album has come together is both unassuming and unyieldingly confident.
By Maxwell Gontarek on Oct. 11, 2015, 7:23 p.m.