Music

Imaginary Cities: Temporary Resident

Temporary Resident is a joy from start to finish. It's also (finally) getting a US release.


Imaginary Cities

Temporary Resident

Label: Votiv
US Release Date: 2012-04-10
UK Release Date: 2011-03-01
Amazon
iTunes

Imaginary Cities are the product of happenstance. Rusty Matyas faintly formed the idea of starting a band with Marti Sarbit after hearing her sing with a Motown cover band (while Matyas mixed). Matyas, after years of touring with The Weakerthans, honed in on her ability immediately and knew he had to showcase it somehow. Fast-forward to the end of 2011 and Matyas' and Sarbit's band Imaginary Cities is on countless year-end lists in Canada in addition to being in the long-list of candidates for Canada's prestigious Polaris Prize. Matyas' intuition about Sarbit was paying off tenfold. Now, finally, Votiv is giving Temporary Resident a proper US release. It lives up to the hype.

Temporary Resident begins brilliantly with the soulful "Say You", which continuously builds momentum after starting with a restrained bluesy introduction. It doesn't take long for Sarbit to let loose vocally, and when she does, it's only a small hint at what's to come. When "Say You" eventually erupts into its final chorus, it's a blistering moment of triumph bolstered by Matyas' guitar work. There are bits of soul, gospel, blues, motown, electro, rock, and pop that combine to form something that feels both original and familiar. That feeling of accessible freshness continues on "Hummingbird" and throughout the rest of Temporary Resident, never once wavering. "Hummingbird" itself finds a perfect balance between an acoustic guitar, a fuzzed out bass, and a minimal piano arrangement. Matyas' bright guitar work once again kicks in at the chorus and elevates the atmosphere a notch.

Then "Calm Before the Storm" hits like a miniature hurricane of stylistic genre defiance. There are small bits of nearly every major genre woven together into an utterly beguiling whole. The song itself is an insidious piano-driven slow-burner that stays with you. "Don't Cry" kicks the pace and tempo up several levels and almost sounds vicious after "Calm Before the Storm", which is a brilliant bit of sequencing. It continues Temporary Resident's ridiculously strong streak and suggests that Imaginary Cities are more fully-formed than any band has a right to be on a debut LP. "Purple Heart" is where Temporary Resident falters a little. Despite being a lovely song, it's a little too over-produced and derails the record's pacing.

Luckily, Imaginary Cities recover quickly -- and strongly -- with album highlight "Ride This Out". It's a fascinating song with a gradually sped up tempo and Temporary Resident's catchiest melody. It also boasts some seriously impressive basslines. If there's one song I can pin-point as to just exactly how (and how well) Imaginary Cities transcend the indie-pop genre they're likely to be tagged with, it's "Ride This Out". Immediately after that comes another highlight in the form of "Where'd All the Living Go?", which effectively showcases the bands lyrical capabilities. Opening with the heartbreaking line "You were asking me in a dream-like state, you were asking 'why'd we have to separate?'" serves as ample evidence of how gifted the songwriting team of Matyas and Sarbit is. "Where'd All the Living Go?" coasts along with memorable melodies and minimal musical arrangements, which only heightens the heartbreak.

The title track is the fiercest of the collection and holds no punches. It's the most guitar-heavy, the most immediate, and one of the most conventional. It's also one of the best. There's a certain sense I get listening to "Temporary Resident" that it's one of the band's most truly collaborative efforts, and Matyas allows himself more room to shine and it works wonderfully. Unfortunately, the next track proves to be another stumbling block before the band lands on the absolutely brilliant arrangements in "Cherry Blossom Tree", in which a brass section makes a very memorable appearance. In the brass section arrangement alone, the band creates something near-magical. They also have the smarts to carry that section over to the majestic and defiant "That's Where It's At, Sam", the record's last grandiose highlight. It's an absolute stunner.

Temporary Resident closes itself out in curious fashion. First is a piano-heavy ballad re-working of the title track, which would've made much more sense as the last track. It does highlight the fact that "Temporary Resident" is an extremely strong song, but in this case, it feels unnecessary and extremely out of place. What Temporary Resident actually closes with, "Mexico", is a foreboding ambient piece that ends up ultimately feeling tacked on, thanks in part to the sequencing of "Temporary Resident (Piano Version)", which is unfortunate because it's a lovely little song that feels like an appropriate epilogue. Ultimately, Temporary Resident feels slightly too long and could have stood to lose a few songs. If it had, Temporary Resident could have been considered a very strong candidate for record of the year. As it stands, this is a very promising debut from a new band worth getting excited about. They should have bigger and better things to come.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.