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Imaginary Johnny

Only Chimneys

(Unfinished Side; US: 8 Apr 2008; UK: Import)

Again, again, again

“Don’t take my patience, my reserves are exhausted”, importunes Imaginary Johnny’s Stuart Wolferman at the start of “Fleas”, the leadoff tune from Only Chimneys. Unfortunately, this potentially compelling sentiment is diluted every time he repeats the line, or some variation of it—which he proceeds to do 16 times in the course of the song.


That’s Only Chimneys in a nutshell: reasonably interesting songs played with verve but undermined by a singer who borders on whiny and whose attempts to ramp up emotional impact consist mainly of repeating himself. “Everything that I write down will burn” he sings in “It’ll Burn”. This line, or parts of it, he repeats 15 times.


There are highlights, sure: “Duct Tape” is carried along on waves of keyboards and organ, while “Civilizations” opens with a bracing burst of guitar and drums. Wolferman, however, has a limited bag of vocal tricks, and on this record he never strays too far from it.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Imaginary Johnny - "Small Prices", directed by Matthew Mills
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