Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Imperial Teen: The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band [Merge, 2007]
Where Sonic Youth are at least sonic, these men and women are far from imperial. Just masterful. They sharpen their hooks and spin their lyrics not for art's sake, but for the artists' pleasure, and for the ears and minds of their discerning fans. The result are songs that illuminate a subcultural dilemma other bands ignore or wallow in: how it feels to stick with your music even when you are going on middle age is plenty full without it. "Room With a View," with the "20 for life" line everybody quotes, lays out the terms. But the opener's "Pump my heart until/Bleeding heart be still" is just as apt. Can't last forever. But the proof it's lasted this long is in the hearing, and they're happy about it. A-