Imperial State Electric
Pop War

01. Uh Huh
02. Narrow Line
03. Cant Seem To Shake It Off My Mind
04. Back On Main
05. Waltz For Vincent
06. Sheltered In The Sand
07. Empty Hands
08. Monarchy Madness
09. Deride And Conquer
10. Enough To Break Our Hearts

Nicke Andersson (Lead vocals & Guitars)
Dolph de Borst (Bass & Vocals)
Tobias Egge (Guitars & Vocals)
Thomas Eriksson (Drums)

Imperial State Electric (2010)
In Concert (2011)


Recorded in Gutterview Studio, Stockholm

Released 9/3-2012
Reviewed 25/3-2012


A title like 'Pop War' can only be interpreted in one of two ways: either they want to war for or against pop music. Based on the music, I'd say it's the first of the two since 'Pop War' sounds more popular music than anything else. Perhaps alternative popular music or some other weird title on it but pop just as well. So, Imperial State Electric heads out in to battle in order to defend pop music - what can we expect from such an adventure?

Well, the two previous releases from the band - the eponymous debut and the 'In Concert' EP - has both escaped from Hallowed with approval, though the debuts approval was weak. Now they're back with a full length album and it's a barely 32 minutes long album with ten songs entitled with names like Uh Huh and a cover art of a war desirous cavalier with his red flag of war raised in to the air. The band might yet still lack that big fan-base but quite the few fans from the mastermind and vocalist/guitarist of the band has followed him from The Hellacopters here and already the band has opened for bands like Gun's 'N' Roses and Kiss, which has made the record label to market the album massively (especially to my e-mail) and the results speak for themselves. Three weeks and a peak position of ninth in Sweden. The record label (owned by Nicke Andersson, the vocalist and guitarist of the band) states that this is the best album of the year, so I guess it's time to prove themselves then!

The introducing song Uh Huh set some sort of standard immediately. This is some sort of 60's inspired pop music with lots of inspiration from the big genres of the 60's and 70's and focus is laid on short, concise and powerful songs with catchy melodies, simplified to such an extent that is possible without loosing the music. The production has left the sound unclean by choice, which makes the album sound old but with modern music. The album only lasts for barely 32 minutes, which is quite fast, and most songs last for less than 3 1/2 minutes with the shortest just above 1 1/2 minute. The shortest songs are the fastest songs tempo-wise as well, Like the introducing Uh Huh and Monarchy Madness, but even the longer songs tend to be pretty fast, like the concluding Enough To Break Our Hearts, which is the longest song of the album with 6.39. This is not only a pretty fast song, like most songs on this album, but it also have some strings in the long and bombastic outro which makes it the first time this band uses such a thing. It's one of the best songs on the album, and I think it works well with the strings, despite this bands ambition to simplify where it's possible.

However, the best weapon this band have are not the strings. Or their 60's sound. Or the length on album and songs. I think the strongest element of this band comes from their clever melodies, their catchy songs and ability to just keep it simple without making it sound boring. The choruses are strong and the verses simple, the music is joyful and easy to follow. I really think this pro-pop war advances strongly forward.

Facing the enemy though, the weaknesses are clearly seen. They are not many but significant. Like the playing time of just above 30 minutes. An album this long can only last for… well, 30 minutes. I tend to complain often about the playing time on album but mostly then on long albums. But same goes with albums too short. I'm not saying that 'Pop War' need to be longer but it feels a bit economical not only from the sound of the music. The strange thing is that while the album feels short, it still manages to become a bit longwinded. Not dull necessarily but while I think it's over quick, I still feel that it was just enough with that. I have no urge to play it again or to hear more and I don't think that is because the album is repetitious or boring. But neither is it the opposite either. Sure, the album is fast, varied and both clever and ingenious but it's the same kind of cleverness and ingenious ideas. I actually think that only three songs can maintain my interest and those are Uh Huh, the ballad Waltz For Vincent and Enough To Break Our Hearts, with its strings. All the songs are pretty good, but they tend to do the same thing over and over and that's never a good thing.

As a whole though, I think this album is really good and not far from a five out of seven. It's the best Imperial State Electric release so far and I can definitely see big things happen for this band. 'Pop War' is strongly approved by me but it's not the best album of 2012. End of story.




Label: Psychout Records/Sound Pollution
Three similar bands: The Hellacopters/Cheap Trick/The Beatles
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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