“I am filled with confidence and all these big ideas,” singer Jason K asserts during “Edison”, Staggering’s seven-minute closer. “I will illuminate this world / Like Edison.” It’s fitting that a band named Boy Genius would name check a certified prodigy, but despite his thousand-plus patents, even Tommy Edison understood that big ideas don’t always translate into good ideas. That’s the case with Staggering, the second full-length from this ambitious Brooklyn quartet. Its ten songs are made almost entirely of major-key jangle, with liberal helpings of harmonies, horn sections, and densely layered effects.
Musically, Staggering has an off-the-charts IQ, thanks to popmaster Mitch Easter’s superb production, but lyrically, the songs trip over their own attempts at cleverness, with tangled lines like, “Holding on to February / Holding it for proof / As simple as the son who keeps on ignoring you.” For all of his brilliance, even Edison didn’t conjure the incandescent bulb on his second attempt, so there’s hope that these well-meaning Boys (and girls) will eventually discover the right combination of instrumentation and inspiration. “We will leave our mark upon the world,” K insists during “Edison”. He may be right. Just not yet.