By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Even after fans know the tunes, which with Imperial Teen has always taken time and with a Breeders crowd couldn't be assumed, pop is hard to bring alive. It doesn't move enough. At the Bowery, Imperial Teen's songs motorvated. One reason their melodies don't connect right away and often remain as rudimentary as they are effective is their rhythm-wise reliance on repeated fragments, nonsense syllables, cute little popbursts. This is clear on the new On, which for variety (read: distance from strum-drone-noize) means to use simple keyb parts like guitar riffs and sometimes does the opposite.
Some say it's been slightly but sadly downhill for Imperial Teen on the two albums that have followed at three-year intervals since 1996's Seasick. But nobody minded when a set included two songs from Seasick, four from What Is Not to Love, and six from On, including the opener, the keyb-hooked "Our Time"which claimed, if you could make out the words, "There's still an underground/It's our time." Maybe, maybe not, and goshImperial Teen aren't teens just like Sonic Youth aren't youths. Don't matter. They know how to ask the musical question: What is not to play?
Also in This Issue:
Keith Harris's review of Imperial Teen's On