Imperial Teen’s always kinda just been there, lingering around the edges of the indie-pop scene; a little too something or not enough of another something to really be plunged into the bloodstream of a particular insular scene. Good thing on both counts since Imperial Teen is impressively broad in its musical perspective and is too perfectly infectious to be plucked up by frat fellas.
Its latest is coming to us in a time when folks’ ears are open more than ever, via Merge, the most adventurous of the larger indies. Thus, Imperial Teen might-could be the headrush kids of all ages are looking for. Hell, all bands should be this beguiling in their stylistic slipperiness, this sugary on the surface while revealing fresh nuance and depth upon every listen.
See, thing is, On proves that Imperial Teen is another welcome ripple in a pop-music pool that includes the Mamas & the Papas, Abba, the Rezillos, the B-52s, Book of Love and Laika. Boys and girls. Love, yearning and loss among the gender ambivalent. Oh, so romantic. And oh, so pragmatic, offering meticulous, articulate, airtight production one moment and seemingly unintended and charming snorts, breaths and other vocal idiosyncrasies the next.
There aren’t many bands that can make you forget about Freddie Mercury, the Woodentops, New Order, Falco and the Ramones in one song before you realized that those particular musical pleasure buttons were being pushed. Imperial Teen leaves so much space between the sounds, creates such an airy feeling that you forget the band is playing within some pretty strict stylistic rules.
Dig this: You know all those Gap, Old Navy and Target commercials that try to encapsulate young yearning (consumable or otherwise) through a near-scientific, airtight and haiku-efficient amalgam of retrograde musical recombination? Well, what if those commercials weren’t trying to sell anything? Remove the consumerism from the context. Poof! Imperial Teen. It’s on.
E-mail Chris Handyside at firstname.lastname@example.org.