Imperial Teen

The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band (Merge)

Phases & Stages

Imperial Teen

The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band (Merge)

This is the sound of a band with nothing to lose. Four bosom buddies and their trusted George Martin behind the boards, Redd Kross medic Steve McDonald, making aural joy because their chemistry is perfect. Shinsian popsters rejoice. Here's another dreamsicle caked with sugar sugar. The San Francisco quartet's fourth LP bursts out of the chute on a pounding piano beat and the group's deadly, almond-scented boy/girl/boy/girl harmonies. Will Schwartz, Lynn Truell, Roddy Bottum, and Jone Stebbins then reel off one hook after another. The sleek bop of "Do It Better" dances like the Sixties cola commercial you'll never forget. "Shim Sham" is straight out of the B-52's "Love Shack." Bottum tap dancing through the title track: reality MTV. Schwartz's needling, head-thumping "It's Now" pushes as insistent as a full bladder. "Fallen Idol"? Kinks' pastoral tea time, sunny Sunday afternoon. More Ray Davies awaits on the fawning "Everyone Wants to Know." Even filler on the order of rock-up "One Two" gets perfectly sequenced, while the twee "Room With a View" unspools about as exciting as the film of the same name. Then, hopscotching "Sweet Potato" mashes all. Listen to Schwartz rattle off the line "finger-lickin gum-smackin sass-talking you know what" as the other three bleat out "sweet potato, oh sweet potato." Spit it, Will: "Hair-hoppin flip-floppin Candy's kicking up the dust." With a touch of grunge fatten, it's two minutes 26 seconds! Best club single since the Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc." Racing spokes on "21st Century" ("It's Armageddon, it's Armageddon") might as well be laced with crystal meth. Bottum's pensive closer, "What You Do," chocks up another sad smiley face. A dozen songs in 38 minutes, same as Imperial Teen's Nineties-defining debut, Seasick. Equally sick, The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band.

****

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