Q: SO WHO'S PERFECT? (A: IMPERIAL TEEN) 

Q: SO WHO'S PERFECT? (A: IMPERIAL TEEN)

Imperial Teen

(Merge)

How many perfect pop records does the world need? For what it's worth, here's one more. Yes, another of those vexing recordings that does everything right from start to finish. And Imperial Teen has produced two such albums already.

Formed by Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum in 1994 as an alternative to the "heavy band" stuff he was mired in at the time, Imperial Teen signed with Slash very quickly and churned out a great first record, Seasick, in 1996 and an even better second record, What Is Not To Love, for the label in 1999. Then they got dropped in an artist purge by Slash's parent company, Universal. Now they're on the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, indie Merge with their best record yet. Sound familiar? Getting dropped by a pseudo-major label and getting picked up by an indie label is becoming the rule rather than the exception for a lot of bands these days. But, in Imperial Teen's case, it's a good thing.

So what does the band offer us with this third trip to the alt-pop well? Twelve great originals, subtle production by Redd Kross' Steven McDonald, good guitar and keyboard work, and hooks, choruses, and melodies that just keep churning around in your noggin' -- in other words, just what fans have come to expect from this underrated band. Consider your purchase an investment in a culture that can keep on producing minor gems like this.

Grade: A-

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