The most appealing thing about the music of Imaginary People is the extraordinary voice of lead singer Dylan Von Wagner. That statement is not meant to knock the other players here -- Mark Roth (guitar), Justin Repasky (keys), Kolby Wade (drums), and Bryan Percivall (bass) -- but to stress what an odd instrument Von Wagner's voice is. And it's that instrument that anchors the band's new album, October Alice, out Friday on Five Five Diamonds.
At times, like on opener "Snapshot", Von Wagner croons atop what sounds like a lost Suede instrumental track. At other times, like on the languid "Long For The Rue", Dylan pours his soul into a song in the manner of the late Jeff Buckley. Elsewhere, "Whisper To Stop" roars with a genuine sense of abandon, all early Joy Division-by-way-of-Interpol riffs, while "Half Step" kicks loose around a near-jig that favorably recalls both early Smiths sides and mid-period Woodentops singles. Riskier moves are found on cuts like "Mr. Hesitance" which seem poised between a real Birthday Party-like sense of upheaval and a more mannered sort of art rock akin to what Byrne and crew pulled off in Talking Heads.
Most of October Alice was a pleasant surprise for me. I want to go find the band's first album now as I enjoyed this one so much. And part of me wants to end this brief review by mentioning that lots of this reminded me of Longpigs but I'm not sure how many people remember that band anymore, or how many remember them as fondly as I do.
[Photo: Rina Khadivi]