Imperial Teen

On

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Opening with a thrilling new version of the previously vinyl-only "Ivanka" and the chaotic stop-and-start stomper "Baby," On begins like any other Imperial Teen album. A pop-perfect hybrid of Top 40, punk, glam, and new wave, that one-two power punch could have easily fit on either of the California foursome's first two near masterpieces, 1996's Seasick and 1999's What Is Not to Love. When the band launches into the album's third number, "Sugar," however, even longtime fans may be surprised by the new direction. Trading in the insanely danceable rock beats of "You're One" and "Year of the Tan" for more mid-tempo, keyboard-driven pop-lite compositions, Imperial Teen is clearly evolving into a group of subtler, more nuanced songwriters. Which, despite occasionally sounding light years removed from the full-throttle pop/rock of its previous output, doesn't mean that On fails to live up to the exhilarating heights of its predecessors: Relentlessly hummable and teeming with beautiful girl/boy harmonies that most bands only dream of, these 12 '80s-tinged tracks simply see the band fine-tuning its singalong songs and, in the process, securing its reign at the top of the pops.

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