Imperial Teen – Feel the Sound

Imperial Teen - Feel the Sound

Imperial Teen - Feel the Sound

Here’s a fun fact, courtesy of Wikipedia, and familiar to those who are familiar with Imperial Teen: Roddy Bottum is the former keyboardist for Faith No More.  Here’s another fact, less fun than the former: after listening to this album you will long for a little more of Faith No More.

Feel the Sound isn’t a bad album, but it’s not a great album either, and the comparison to Faith No More is appropriate in this respect: while sometimes sonically clunky, Faith No More, especially on their great album Angel Dust, made you sit up and notice, or at least scratch your head a little puzzled (they did, after all, seem to invent the word “menstruating” in the song Midlife Crisis).  Not so with the latest from Imperial Teen.

Feel the Sound is such a consistent, and consistently smooth, pop album, that it might put you to sleep, or at least a musically-induced coma.  None of the songs is especially adventurous, nor does the band really change the tempo up. Again, it is consistent.  Unfortunately, consistency isn’t always a virtue in music.  When the band mixes it up a little, as on “Out From Inside”, it feels as if one is coming up for air.

I really wanted to like this album, and the first few songs, especially the opener, “Runaway”, had me asking, “Where has Imperial Teen been all my life?”  They are the type of band I was born to admire: male-female harmonies, peppy guitars, floating electronic keyboards, and apparently they switch up their instruments at shows (this never fails to impress).  In fact, Imperial Teen had entered my consciousness before, as I had really loved the track Shim Sham, from their much better (and better titled) album, The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band.

But there comes a point where too much of the same good thing is simply: too much.  By the time we get to “All the Same”, the sixth track on the album, we feel like we’ve heard this before, because we have: we’re back to sounding a lot like the first track (or the second, or the third…).  All the same, indeed.

Feel the Sound left this listener feeling a little numb, and longing for something a little more epic.