Imperial Teen: Feel the Sound

Imperial Teen, Feel the Sound, merge recordsImperial Teen: Feel the Sound
On it’s fifth album, Feel The Sound, Imperial Teen is full, bright, and tight. Given the critical acclaim of past efforts and the groups from whence its members came – Faith No More, Sister Double Happiness, the Wrecks, among others – that should come as no surprise. The cynic in me, though, didn’t want to believe a band known for it’s youthful, poppy sound could be youthful or poppy sixteen years after its inception. Within the confines of such a rigid structure, how much can really be expressed? Pop music, for all the tricks and tropes at its disposal, can only do and say so much before it comes full circle and bites its own butt. Given the short shelf-life of the average song, album, and even career, the industry standard holds that bands combat irrelevance by producing constantly. It’s a methodology that holds no water for Imperial Teen. With five years since their last album, the members are clearly glad to be back together, lifting each other with the perspective gained in their time apart.
Shades of Imperial Teen can be heard in contemporary critical darlings like Phoenix and Cut Copy. Both deliver their brand of high energy pop with precision and charisma. Neither of these bands deliver precision or charisma as well as Imperial Teen, though. From the opening moments of “Runaway”, the band is of the same mind. Propelled by a swirling keyboard hook and held up by a meaty backbeat, it culminates with a gloriously harmonious vocal movement until the song is clipped. I choose to believe that harmony continued in perfect accord well after the engineer stopped the tape and went home for the night. On “No Matter What You Say”, the breathy “Ah-Ah” section of the chorus speaks volumes of the band’s ability to do a lot with oh so little, expressing both wonder and resilience in those two short syllables. Clocking in at 40:40, the songs on Feel The Sound are right out of the pop playbook and right to the point. Within those confines, though, Imperial Teen project a warmth and lack of cynicism that is as refreshing as it is unique.
For all the limitations of the pop palette, Imperial Teen manages to find freshness by refusing to box in their raw, live sound. It’s a sound that, at it’s biggest, wants to be even bigger. With tools as old as the hook and the chorus, Imperial Teen commands a level of synchronicity that they can will in any direction, tipping any box that would seek to contain it, spilling transcendent harmony all over the damn place.
Rating: 8.0/10
MP3: Imperial Teen “Runaway”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! Vinyl

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