Music Reviews
Feel the Sound

Imperial Teen Feel the Sound

(Merge Records) Rating - 4/10

While I spent a hefty amount of time scrutinizing Feel The Sound, Imperial Teen’s first new album in five years, I also spent an equal amount of time searching for meaning. I had a vague recollection of this band when this album appeared. Since I hold a lot of value in the relationship between longevity and bands, and Imperial Teen has been around since the mid-90s, I felt the need to explore beyond the sound. I suppose my initial curiosity revolved around the question: Why do we [still] care?

The first thing I discovered on my hunt was that Roddy Bottum, ex-Faith No More keyboardist, hasn’t disappeared. He’s led Imperial Teen back for another round in the information age. The foursome has displayed a staunch cohesion that proves they’re prepared for their reappearance, but in a way that seems to serve them more than others. Whenever I see these guys, I feel like they have some inside joke that’s been going on for years, and every fan knows exactly what it is while the rest of us rock confused face. Turns out the sultry Yoo Hoo single off of What is Not To Love was definitely my one and only connection with them. I originally thought that by distinguishing my initial relationship with their younger offspring I might be able to explain the development of Feel The Sound. Unfortunately, the only pattern I found in my research was a very consistent debate of Imperial Teen’s underrated vs. overrated status, and the fact that Yoo Hoo is the worst representation of their current and signature sound. Results appear to be inconclusive, so we’ll get back to the topic at hand.

Feel The Sound is the finest piece of teen indie-pop around. Melodies are simple and cheerful, there’s a generous helping of perfect male/female harmonies, and there’s absolutely nothing dark or sexy about any of it. The vocal deliveries are all very sharp and structured, to the point where you feel like you’re listening to nursery rhymes put to music. The single Runaway is happiest piece of music I’ve come across in a while and it should come with a warning label. If you’re forced to listen to this song in an average to poor mood, you could possibly hurt someone. I did enjoy Overtaken, not necessarily because I felt a stronger connection with the depth, minor keys and muffled chorus, but because it brings you back to reality. While I can appreciate their longevity, ironic style and pureness in their sound, I can’t admit that this was enjoyable for me.