Imperial Teen: Los Angeles Spaceland

Ex-Faith No More member Roddy Bottom goes pop in new band Imperial Teen...

There is no disputing that Faith No More were pioneers in their time, practically inventing the whole rap-rock genre, and paving the way for the hordes of sports-metal bands dominating the airwaves today.

Ironic really then that, while bands they spawned are filling arenas across the country, here is former Faith No More member Roddy Bottom fronting his one love, Imperial Teen. Rather than cashing in on the big shorts phenomenon with some cheap knock off, Roddy turned his back on it all to indulge his true passion – the pop song.

So, instead of Faith No More’s in-your-face thundering guitars, Imperial Teen revel in a sugary concoction – all melodies, harmonies and jangling guitars. Their reference point is ’90s-era 4AD, and over two criminally overlooked albums Imperial Teen have indulged in a love of the Pixies, The Breeders, and of course, Unrest (from whom they nicked their moniker).

And, well, that’s pretty cool. As they open tonight with their self-titled theme song, there is no disputing the infectious quality of Imperial Teen’s space-age pop. The crowd goes crazy to the raucous sounds of ‘Butch’, while Eric Erlandson of Hole quietly grooves away in the corner to ‘Lipstick’. And the sonic blare of ‘Birthday Girl’ is pogo fodder, echoing the warped UFO-pop of Frank Black and company.

Having been holed up in the studio in LA with Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker (of Redd Kross and That Dog respectively), tonight is an opportunity for the band to dust off the cobwebs, and even air a few new songs. ‘Teacher’s Pet’, barely a week old, rocks with the simple electronic buzz of Wire, another classic in the Imperial Teen songbook.

And all you can think is, “Faith No Who?” As Imperial Teen said themselves, with the title of their second album, “What is not to love?”

Jason Reynolds