Saturday, 5/12/2012 @ east end

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east end
203 Se Grand     Portland, OR

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  1. at this point, imperial teen's brand of sweet, boisterous pop has been confined to indie's fringes, but the band seems perfectly content to do its own thing in perpetuity and impervious to fashion. the time when imperial teen's music could have been considered sellable to america's radio suits, that late-1990s moment when alt-rock shrugged off grunge gloom for gloss and smiles, feels like it happened in another lifetime. as for all of the sounds that have come and gone in indie-land since-- from garage-rock revival to dance-punk to whatever the hell we're calling chillwave in the post-mortem period-- they might as well not have happened in imperial teen's world. this dogged insularity in the face of indie's endless trend-hopping is essentially a good thing, even if you have to be down with imperial teen's basic routine of slick and déjà vu inducing power-pop hooks, oveer-sugared harmonies, and immediately sing-alongable choruses to need more than one record. and "routine" is the right word here, even if i don't mean it as an insult. following the band's relaxed, "let's put out an album every four or five years for fun" release schedule, the new feel the sound is sunny and bubbly, but the bulk of these songs follow a very specific template with the rigor of any furrow-browed academic composer. a steady bubblegum beat, somewhere between abba in motorik mode and the archies-go-c86, sets things up. soft vocals, sometimes harmonizing in time-honored indie pop tradition and sometimes solo, carry us through a low-key verse. then comes the explosive, joyful chorus. repeat a handful of times, and we're out. feel the sound does its best to keep things varied by once again stretching beyond the stripped-down diy guitar jangle of vintage indie pop. imperial teen haven't lost their knack for shining up these simple and familiar forms with careful (but not suffocating) ornamentation. and true, things get a little darker in the album's middle stretch. but since this is imperial teen, we're talking a rather gentle and non-threatening brand of darkness. "over his head" had me imagining a world where sarah cracknell joined a cure tribute band rather than saint etienne, their lone single winding up on a k-tel compilation of moody goth-pop classics, and "hanging about" catches a similar vibe, where pensive post-punk takes the proverbial chill pill. for the most part, though, from robotic-but-rambunctious opener "runaway" to the late-album one-two closing swoon of "it's you" and "overtaken", feel the sound leans on imperial teen's puppyish charm and love for soft-rock's smooth bliss. the rock songs are revved-up but not macho. the ballads are written by folks who've studied the songs of 1960s and 1970s greats rather than smearing a bunch of feedback over some weedy purloined hooks. and yet, despite their tendency toward pop formalism, imperial teen are hardly the ramones, and feel the sound's got plenty of variety even within its own rather strict songwriting guidelines. it's not going to surprise anyone, least of all longtime fans, but it's not like there are dozens of similar acts around at the moment demanding your attention. and indie pop's current lesser lights usually lack for imperial teen's care and craft, two aspects not to be knocked when dealing with the restrictions of the old verse-chorus-verse. imperial teen know what they like, are content to do it well, and there's still more pleasure in that than next-big-thing culture often lets on.

    • Jeff
    • 5/12/2012 1:55:20 AM
  2. show-bot!

    don't ever blow out the calendar listings by adding a shitfuck ton of notes to the artist fields. leave that shit in the comments

Max 4000 chars What say you?
Edit History
Who edited this show-listing and when:
  • show-bot!
    5/12/2012 10:15:06 AM
    Edit#56571 []
    holy shit, you didn't even try. CLEANING UP FORMAT SO HARD.

  • anon-
    5/12/2012 1:46:48 AM
    Edit#56570 []

  • anon-
    5/12/2012 1:45:27 AM
    Edit#56569 []
    Uploading show flyer

  • anon-
    5/12/2012 1:43:59 AM
    Edit#56568 []
    posting new show
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