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May 9th, 2012 CASEY JARMAN | Music Stories
 

Primer: Imperial Teen

music.box.imperial-teen_3827IMPERIAL TEEN - IMAGE: Marina Chavez
Formed: 1994 in San Francisco. 

Sounds like: A series of intense couple fights that always end in cuddling.

For fans of: Sonic Youth, Electric Light Orchestra, the Dandy Warhols, Letters to Cleo, Pulp, Hefner, Blur, Mates of State, Superchunk.

Latest release: This year’s bouncy, keyboard-driven Feel the Sound.

Why you care: Imperial Teen, spearheaded by former Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum, has seen turns as a critical darling and a well-connected success (touring with Hole and contributing to a handful of movie soundtracks) over its long career, but has stayed well within the periphery of the mainstream most of that time. The band’s four previous albums are simultaneously devoid of filler and all filler: Bubblegum pop this chewy—excellent 2002 offering On sounds strangely Japanese—usually turns people on or pulls their plug completely. Because despite, or perhaps thanks to, one of the thinnest discographies of its generation, Imperial Teen has aged extremely well. From the exhaustingly sweet, Unicorns-esque opener “Runaway” to the Death Cabbish, epic closer “Overtaking,” fifth disc Feel the Sound is as rewarding an album as fans of syrupy boy-girl pop are likely to find this year. It should not be missed—and especially in this intimate a space, neither should Imperial Teen.


SEE IT: Imperial Teen plays East End, 203 SE Grand Ave., on Saturday, May 12, with the Prids and the Shivas. 9 pm. Cover. 21+.

 
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