Imperial Teen

Right next to the cash register, there it is -- shiny foil wrapping gooey hummability. Plop it in your gob, the hooks and melodies vibrate in your mouth. Then the acid hits. Imperial Teen's dark charm derives from earthy boy-girl harmonies, spacious synth and guitar, and Saturday Morning phrasing of vignettes about sex, longing, musty socialites, and million-dollar prosthetics. The quartet assembled by Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum follows its critical success on 1999's What Is Not To Love with a contagious dichotomy: hopscotch pop that leaves you staring at an ashtray full of cigarettes.

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Shawn Bean