Music » CD Reviews

Imperial Teen

On (Merge)

by

comment
When last we left Imperial Teen, San Francisco's premier power-pop quartet was walking the plank off a corporate-controlled label and receding into memory on the sails of a dull sophomore effort. For anyone who thought only Fountains of Wayne made a grander, more acerbic guitar-pop album in mid-'90s America than the Teen's debut Seasick, standing on the pier and waving Roddy Bottum's quartet goodbye was no freaking fun. Thank God, then, the Teen ship noise-pop pulled up to the indie island known as Merge Records, which seems to have taken astute advantage of recent multinational roster-trimmings and created a minor pop masterpiece.

From the liftoff, announced by Bottum's "One two three go!", On is all about hooks and groove. In this context, words are rarely more than rhythmic shards, exquisitely crafted innocent nonsense to back song titles such as "Baby," "Sugar," "Teacher's Pet," and "My Spy." Flying new-wavey keyboards and hard-not-harsh guitars are underpinned by the propulsion of Lynn Perko's laid-back drums and Jone Stebbins's ever-present two-note bass; all steer this vessel with equal bravado, as comfortable at taking on Belle & Sebastian-type lush waves as they are pretending it's 1982 and they're a skinny-tie-wearing cover band. Welcome them to your port!

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.