San Francisco pop quartet Imperial Teen returned to the music scene with Now We Are Timeless, their first new record since 2012, on Friday, July 12. Their latest record keeps with their trademark of dynamic pop hooks, though it delves into themes of crisis and catharsis rather than the beachier optimism of the band’s first record, 1996’s Seasick.
Though Now We Are Timeless can be characterized as pop, its highly rhythmic nature and cutting electronic edges give it an experimental feel. Right from the start, “I Think That’s Everything” opens with a warping lick and smooth, dry vocals – it’s a cool sound, yet that pop influence is still evident in the irresistibility of its hook. The first half of the album falls in line with these tropes: sharp, electric melodies and a heavy grunge permeate the first few tracks.
The standout, though, is the second track: “We Do What We Do Best” brings an eerie quality to the album as a group repeatedly chants and growls the title of the song. It’s percussive, gritty and dark, and an electric distortion effect on the guitar riffs breeds a dangerous undertone.
Yet not everything feels quite so experimental; “Walkaway” is impossibly catchy and a little more upbeat and feels far more poppy than the rest. “How We Say Goodbye,” too, is theatrical and dynamic, with grand piano chords and drumsticks clicking, and it creates a stunning effect.
That is all to say that even among the dissonance and crisis of this record, the band’s cohesion and energy are undeniable. The four experienced musicians (Roddy Bottum, Will Schwartz, Jone Stebbins and Lynn Perko Truell) work well together, creating seamless pop tracks that are also highly unique in their grit and grunge.
Now We Are Timeless is a stunning return for Imperial Teen, though not entirely surprising for a band of its caliber and experience, and it is simultaneously poppy and just weird enough to be enthralling. Check out Imperial Teen’s Now We Are Timeless on all streaming platforms, but stream and purchase the record via the group’s Bandcamp below.