I thought that the ’80s were dead! The generation known
for its florescent colors and strip malls has somehow managed to
dig itself out of the ground and crawl into music stores
nationwide. ImaRobot follows the music scene’s current
obsession with “retro rock bands”. The rock revival has
spawned many great bands; unfortunately, ImaRobot has chosen the
wrong decade to imitate.
ImaRobot’s self-titled debut is a harrowing Pinto ride
through mid ’80s new wave and punk. Alex Ebert’s
theatrical vocals conjure memories of David Bowie at his
spandex-wearing peak while the band’s “nerd-cool”
outfits are enough to make Devo roll over in their graves (I
wasn’t being literal, I know they’re not dead …
The album begins with “dynomite,” a mindless
punk-inspired tune that opens with Ebert using his best Paulie
Shore impression to say, “Here’s a story for the
kids.” This brings us to the aptly titled “Song #
1” which follows the same punk trends as its predecessor.
We are then hit by a shocking change of pace in which two very
good songs are produced. “Alive” and
“Scream” are the only reasons to buy this album.
“Alive” combines 50s rock melodies with raging new wave
guitars while “Scream” is the band at its most
sensitive state. Delicate piano melodies intertwine with
Ebert’s falsetto vocal to create the best moment of the
By the time that we reach song number five, “A is for
Action”, there is a sense of hope and possibility for the
rest of the album. To the listener’s disappointment the
remaining songs descend into a world of ’80s video game
sounds and obnoxious vocal excursions. “12=3” has a
wonderfully catchy chorus, but the song is ruined by Ebert’s
spoken-word segments that come off as desperate and extraneous.
“Here Come The Bombs” is clearly the worst moment on
the album. The song begins with Ebert begging the listener to
purchase the ImaRobot CD, literally! “Buy our album please,
we got five stars” he cries. I don’t know what the
intentions of this statement were and at this point in the album I
really don’t care.
The future of ImaRobot is anything but certain; they have shown
signs of potential that may one day produce good things. With a
steady rhythm section comprised of Beck’s former backing
musicians, Justin Meldal-Johnson (bass) and Joey Waronker (drums),
ImaRobot has the experience to produce a quality product. Hopefully
their debut album is a false start on what may one day be a solid
Rating: 2 stars.