Imperial Teen | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Imperial Teen 

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IMPERIAL TEEN

Although their new What Is Not to Love (Slash) doesn't quite measure up to their 1996 debut, Seasick--which is, to be fair, one of the decade's best first albums--they remain the most quotable indie band in existence. Even if "Why you gotta be so proud? / I'm the one with lipstick on" and "My prodigy / Outsmarted me" and "So you're fucking movie stars? / Well, I'm fucking congressmen" aren't quite as gloriously bizarre as "Idle hands will kill your pimp and make you whore du jour" and "So you're the messiah / I think you should retire / I'm a fan of Liberace too," they're still pretty great lines. And if the music sounds less offhandedly inspired, more professional this time around, well, these four candy-coated malcontents from San Francisco sure know their formula: hooky new-wave guitars, piano eighth notes, forceful drums, and, most fun of all, the wry detachment with which mewling vocalist-guitarist Will Schwartz and stiff-upper-lipped vocalist-guitarist Roddy Bottum deliver their bons mots. Listening to them sing is like like watching somebody spike the punch, betraying on his face only the slightest hint of the glee you know he's feeling. Live, Bottum, Schwartz, bassist Jone Stebbins, and drummer Lynn Perko look like they've had a bit of that punch themselves: their sheer joy at being onstage never fails to infect the audience. OK, all together now: "Butch is pink / And butch is blue / You like strawberries / And I like you!" Thursday, May 27, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kate Garner.

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