When Imperial Teen debuted in 1996 with Seaside, their indie-pop stylings were almost as daring as their gay activism, earning them high praise and radio airplay. But by this century/millennium, after difficulties with major label Universal leading them to alt-imprint Merge in 2002, their shine had worn off and a five-year hiatus ensued. They returned with The Hair, the TV, the Baby, and the Band (QRO review), a welcome record that still neither fit in nor stood out. But with Feel the Sound, after another half-decade break, maybe the time is finally just right again for the exceedingly enjoyable outfit.
"Runaway" kicks Sound off with a bright, up-tempo catch that can’t be denied. And even if perhaps no other track is quite as fine, Imperial Teen still do indie-pop really well on such numbers as the growing "No Matter What You Say", pop-procession explosion "Last To Know", and even the more wistful "All the Same". Still, the group suffers somewhat when they leave what they do best, like with the more ominous "Over His Head" or more indietronic "Hanging About", and even a few of the indie-pop pieces are a touch forgettable. Yet there’s no way to come out of listening to this record with anything but warm feelings.
Perhaps 2007, like 2002, wasn’t the right time for indie-pop, but 2012 feels extremely friendly towards it, countering the doom-and-gloom of the times and over-artistic experimentation of so many musicians. Whatever the reason, come on and Feel the Sound.
MP3 Stream: "Runaway"