The Serious Geniuses - You Can Steal the Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Serious Geniuses

The Serious Geniuses: You Can Steal the Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent

You Can Steal the Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent (2008)

Kiss of Death


3.5
Listening to the Serious Geniuses' hilariously named debut You Can Steal The Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent is like climbing aboard the way-back machine and traveling back to a simpler time, when gas was cheap, people left their doors unlocked at night and bands like Superchunk ruled the unde...

Listening to the Serious Geniuses' hilariously named debut You Can Steal The Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent is like climbing aboard the way-back machine and traveling back to a simpler time, when gas was cheap, people left their doors unlocked at night and bands like Superchunk ruled the underground. The beauty of this release lies in its simplicity; these guys aren't trying to melt off anyone's faces or break new ground, instead vying for a competent re-imagining of a scene long forgotten and buried in favor of other bands who tried to do too much.

At their core, these are power-pop songs, and for the most part they're played well. Memorable melodies are present in great amounts here. The guitar work, though it could use a bit more oomph is some spots, is usually effective in creating a strong hook. I've heard the riffs in "Marc Attack" and "27/57" about a thousand times before and chances are so have you, but it gets the feet tappin', so if it ain't broke, then why fix it?

There's a certain air of vulnerability behind the more reserved, almost echoey "Almost Shameless" that's positively endearing, and there's even charm behind the sloppiness of "Backwards, Thinking Backwards," whether it's the disjointed guitars or the high-pitched, wobbly vocals. And in "Echo Mode," the pounding low-end guitar work in the verses coupled with the slightly sunnier, twinkling tones utilized in the chorus make for a nice dynamic. They even throw in a cover of Witches with Dicks' "Die Painfully" to close out the record that's pretty fun, and credited as being by 'a bunch of fucking fuckers' in the liner notes. Good times.

Overall, You Can Steal the Riffs, But You Can't Steal the Talent is a fine little slice of reeducation that's warm and easy to digest. The Serious Geniuses won't blow anyone away, but something tells me that isn't exactly what they set out to do in the first place.

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