I remember the high school times with some kind of bittersweet feeling, because I was neither a top of the class nor a cool guy, only an average teenager with big glasses who did not dislike maths. In 1996, my musical taste would have killed my record shop dealer. Eclecticism? I did not even know the word at that time. The first CDs I remember buying are : AC/DC Live, QUEEN Live at Wembley, IAM Ombre est Lumière, SCORPIONS, THE BEATLES Red Album, OFFSPRING Smash, ….And then Imperial Teen. I had seen the video for “Your One” several times and really liked the song because I was 17. I remember going to the only real-life record shop of our town in the morning because we had an hour between two classes. I bought the album and came back to a café near high school to join my friends for a babyfoot match. They laughed when they saw the cover of the album I proudly showed them just to impress them (everyone could not afford to buy CDs with his own money). I listened the album and liked it. It was easy on the ear in terms of music, vocals were a real achievement and lyrics were not stupid to me yet. But as time went by, it drowned into my collection of CDs and I had almost forgotten it at the end of the last century. So when SEB WOOd played “Your One” during an Only Angels party, I thought it might be great fun to kick around old times.
The arpeggio of the song “Imperial Teen” that opens the album directly plunges me into my memories, when I was learning guitar with my brother just to figure out this arpeggio. I tried again lately and it is really simple. I had never paid attention before that this is the longest song on the album and they put it first, in the nineties every pop-rock band has done the opposite. Is this another clue to prove that this album has something special? Anyway the song is a ballad.
“Water Boy” was angst for me 7 years ago, only pop angst is slightly different than grunge or indie ones. This one is a 90 seconds pseudo punk-ish 2 chords lament.
“Butch” : “butch is pink / butch is blue / you like strawberries / I like you”. I am surprised how it still sounds good compared to some other albums made in the nineties that sound like “shit mix” today. This was one of my favorites but I don’t think I ever disliked any song on the album so this statement is not really relevant.
“Pig Latin” lines have been carved in my mind for ever : "take me I am mine / let’s stop and order pancakes / I don’t mind sitting around." Yet again there are only 3 or 4 chords in the song but simplicity works here. The solo on 3 notes is incredibly wise and simple and cheap. I wonder if there is a message somewhere in the lyrics, something seriously minded that may have change the course of some teenager’s life. I think I only understood a little bit of the lyrics at the time, however I was stupid enough to find that bit really funny and meaningful.
“Blaming the Baby” sounded noisy to my ears then but I was still living at my parents house so it was not really relevant, you know.. It’s one of the only songs that sometimes sounds dirty in its more distorted parts.
I cannot help but love “Your One” with its beautiful vocal harmonies. The ending with 4 voices is just great, like a children choir. Play it at parties, it's a real hit.
“Tippy Tap” : "I got a can of shit / can you open it?" Plus some ‘debutant in a transe’ feedbacks. I think Imperial Teen’s music can be described as simple and yet 7 years later, after all the stuff I’ve been listening to, I still like this album without being able to explain why.
“Eternity” softly ends the album with a sad tone : "what are we supposed to be?" The singer asks.
answer is in the review of Imperial Teen’s third album, “On”
-Angus Anderson Jr
/may 15th 2003/