Imperial Teen - Feel the Sound (Merge)

Still surprisingly engaging for a part-time band.

Ever since the group's 1996 debut, Imperial Teen has stuck to a schedule that seems more catered to what members have going on in their personal lives than to a desire to make music with any sort of regularity. The fifth album — and first since 2007's The Hair, the TV, the Baby, and the Band — takes a stroll through the indie-pop landscape the band helped forge, and finds a type of peace within the everyday turmoil of being moms, dads, husbands and wives. But none of these grown-up responsibilities has made Imperial Teen's music any less cheery. From the opening sugar high of "Runaway," they inflate Feel the Sound with new-wave drums, boy-girl vocals, soaring synths and killer hooks. It doesn't all fall into place (they forgot to finish the plodding "Hanging About"), but it's still surprisingly focused for what amounts to a part-time band these days.

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