Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The last of the new romantics: We Are Imaginary return with an album to learn and sing

The last of the new romantics: We Are Imaginary return with an album to learn and sing
by rick olivares

Indie rock band We Are Imaginary’s third album, “Death to Romanticism” opens with some lines from the Michel Gondry film, “The Science of Sleep”…

“Now don’t play me. This is never gonna happen. Are you trying to give me hope?”

“Maybe we should try.”

And well… this is album is your happy pill to the crumbling world around us.

We Are Imaginary are back with their third album (after their debut, “One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum” and their sophomore release, “The Silence is a Villain”) that shimmers with delight and optimism. Sick and tired of the news of the world? Then press play on “Death to Romanticism”; an oxymoron of a title. And that’s fine.

If the first album was an ode to innocence and brimmed with youthful optimism, the second album was edgier, as the band, in lead singer and guitarist Ahmad Tanji’s words, “was trying to find our footing”, then “Death to Romanticism” is a combination of both.

“It’s edgy but it retains the sweetness of youth,” adds Tanji; a sweetener to the angst of line-up changes and the life and times of an indie band in search of a pop dream. “I describe the album as hummable noise.”

In writing about this band’s previous efforts, I’ve oft spoke of the soft-loud dynamics of the Pixies, Weezer yet with the bittersweet harmony of Fil-Am rockers Versus. We Are Imaginary feels that way minus the eccentricities and instead waxes poetic and hopeful. If the Bard were alive today, he’d be also listening to We Are Imaginary (and perhaps, to Sting and the Verve among others).

The strength in this band is their songwriting that are deep and emotive. And when you wax that kind of eloquence, you reel people in. Furthermore, the musicianship, more than ever -- from drummer Eric Po, bassist Vhal Bugtong, and guitarists Ahmad and Khalid Tanji – is solid. In short, We Are Imaginary have a gift for hooks. Hummable noise indeed.

The album opens with the rocker, “Press Play” with some wailing vocals by guest vocalist Mary Whitney and a scrumptious interplay with Tanji. “I forgot to breathe…” they both sing. And thankfully, music, allows you to breathe when life sucks.

“Sunny Where You Are” somehow reminds me of Gondry’s other well-known film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a yearning as the songs goes, A Woody Allen film, a Jeff Buckley song – signposts of good days or moments that bring a smile to one’s lips.

“Pencil Me In” is in that vein too.

Lest you think that it is all bright and sunny, the band somewhat steps on the breaks with pensive ditties “Danger Signs”, “Episodes”, and “A Good Kind of Sad” are a reality check. But this isn’t “We Aren’t Imaginary” if they don’t have this wistful take despite the tough times.

Life isn’t all sunny weather, the seasons, as Stevie Nicks once wrote for an entire generation of daydreamers in “Landslide,” it’s about handling the seasons of our lives. And handle it well is what We Are Imaginary does. It is what this band is all about. Just because the world around us sucks, it doesn’t mean we can’t work and hope for a better one.

Au contraire, romanticism is alive and well.

Now get the album and press play.


CDs of the new album can be purchased at Satchmi (Megamall), Team Manila (MOA, SM North & Trinoma), Four Strings (Cubao X), and Crazy Katsu (Maginhawa St).

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