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After Five Years, Finding a Way to 'Do It Better'

Imperial Teen plays a blend of garage-rock, new-wave and shimmering pop-punk.
Imperial Teen plays a blend of garage-rock, new-wave and shimmering pop-punk.

In a summer full of recent reunions by the likes of Meat Puppets, Crowded House, The Police and The Spice Girls, Imperial Teen has also regrouped after a five-year gap. Often, a hiatus can change the group dynamic or cause a wild reinvention to modernize the core sound that fans grew to love. But judging by The Hair, the TV, the Baby and the Band, the San Francisco band sounds fresh and inspired, picking up where it left off with a collection of crisp three-minute pop songs.

Since the mid-'90s, Imperial Teen has been known for its blend of garage-rock, new-wave and shimmering pop-punk. "Do It Better" follows that formula to perfection: Awash in jangly guitars, warm synths and a straight-ahead danceable pulse, the music is plenty infectious. From the rhythmic single-note guitar phrase to the simple vocals, repetition functions as a key ingredient in its own right.

While the chorus brims over with soaring hooks, the words reveal a somber undertone of longing and regret. As a deeper meaning surfaces beneath the energetic melodies — "Made a fortune and now it's gone / I held on to it too long" — it's clear that "Do It Better" functions as more than just a glossy, road-trip-friendly pop gem.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Mike Katzif