What is Not to Love
The year, 1996. The album, Seasick , possibly one of the best debut albums of the year, if not this decade. The band, Imperial Teen. Fast forward three years, and Imperial Teen has struck gold again with its brilliant sophomore release, appropriately entitled What Is Not To Love . This mixed-gender quartet (led by Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum) takes the simplistic song structure and lyrics that crafted Seasick to enhanced heightened levels on Love . Who said the post-grunge pop movement was dead?
It’s so refreshing to hear an album filled with so many energizing, dynamic songs. It’s almost hard to believe this album was recorded early in ’98, only to be delayed for a later release. It’s a throwback to the days when pop songs were short, sweet, and to the point. Even if they were bad, the catchy hooks, drum beat, and lyrics dragged you into the whole mess until you were willing to scream uncle.
With two exceptions, most of the sweet melodic pop songs on What is Not to Love are concise, sometimes abrupt, but still the lo-fi pop ditties we have grown to love. Ambitiously cascading into pure walls of thundering sound, “Alone in the Grass” and “Hooray” push the seven minute mark. Does it matter to a band that constantly pushes boundaries in every area?
The band seems to comfortably write songs about themselves; molding invigorating songs about friendship, love, and male and female viewpoints. Nothing is sacred. They take fate and twist it into pure pop joy. In “YOO-HOO,” Roddy proudly sings, “a cold charisma, shotgun wedding and I’m familiar with the Kama Sutra.” Apparently, a song about experience Roddy had with a stalker. “Kissed my friend again. Oops, I’m best again. Come on, Come on” rings out with little consequence or passion in “Crucible.”
According to an interview with Jone Steebins, bassist/guitarist/vocalist, taken from the Launch Music web page, “The first album was just plug-in-and-play. This time, we worked on getting the right guitar tone and developing textures.” It’s apparent, too. Imperial Teen keeps the consistency going by delivering sweet, candy-coated, minimalist pop songs to music lovers everywhere.
Slash Records, P.O. Box 48888, Los Angeles, CA 90488-0888