At the heart of The New AM, the immensely appealing debut from The Imperial Sound, is the band’s mastery of the classic pop hook. Primary songwriter Rick Mosher references everyone from Todd Rundgren and Carole King to Elvis Costello and The Replacements, and the result is an impressively consistent album of perfect pop moments. Years of shared experience in studios and on stages have sharpened the Imperial Sound’s instincts, and their arrangements have an easy power that is only earned over time. As accomplished as the band is, they are never afraid to let their Midwestern roots show. An Imperial Sound song is like a semi-polished gem – beautiful, but unpretentious and still a bit rough around the edges. The best of them, like “Yesterday,” “Daylight,” and “A Man Like You” are both sophisticated and endearingly straightforward. It’s no surprise that a who’s who of Chicago rock and pop talent lined up to sing on this project: Kathy Ruestow, Dag Juhlin, Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Bobby Cornelius, and Peter Himmelman all lend their voices to the album. Listen to the slashing power chords of “Get Along” or the major-league horn hooks of “I Feel Strange,” and you’ll realize that you’re in the company of a band that understands the power and the beauty of a truly great pop song.