Kiss me like a man, boy: The best of Imperial Teen

The CD sleeve called out for me to place the thing in the slush pile. A dolphin? Those colors? I handed the album to writer Abel, confident that I, the new arts editor for my student newspaper, had made a judicious decision. Abel loved Seasick and, getting over my distaste, so did I (Abel went to an estimable career as a Miami New Times music critic and a translator). Imperial Teen dominated my listening that summer, which made sense: a series of short stories I wrote at last made text out of the queerness I had kept subtext for years. “He was a troubled teen/He read a magazine/The prince wants to be a queen” was one of several oh-hos on an album whose sugary crust hid melodies and lyrics to chew on for twenty years. Their collective DNA prizes fluidity. Roddy Bottum flitted from Faith No More’s keyboardist to Imperial Teen’s guitarist, a nominal duty since the instrumental fluidity of Will Schwartz, Lynn Truell, and Jone Stebbins is their m├ętier too. They love riffs and sequencers, they’re comfortable with chants and long lines.

Not one of their six albums is a mistake. So fervid is my partisanship that I pitched reviews for The Hair The TV The Baby & the Band, (2007), Feel the Sound (2012), and Now We Are Timeless (2019, though City Pages‘ archive ain’t online, alas).

These sixteen choices should get you started.

1. You’re One
2. Ivanka
3. Imperial Teen
4. The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band
5. Yoo Hoo
6. Butch
7. City Song
8. Room with a View
9. Baby
10. Alone in the Grass
11. Blaming the Baby
12. My Spy
13. Runaway
14. The Beginning
15. Timeless
16. Overtaken

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