Five years after the hooky-but-uneven On, San Francisco naïf-pop band Imperial Teen returns with The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band, which distills the chugging guitars and affectless harmonizing of the band's earlier records into an especially tight set. Songs like "Shim Sham" and "It's Now" combine simple declarative statements and minimalist melodies into something hummable and slightly distanced. But some human warmth bleeds through on "Room With A View" and "Fallen Idol"—the latter a music-hall-influenced expression of sympathy for yesterday's superstars. Even when Imperial Teen reduces its sound to almost nothing, as on the hauntingly spare "What You Do," every instrument and voice rings out, appealingly unsullied.

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