It opens with a somber piano playing over the crackle of a record player. Before long, though, the sadness gives way to more hopeful, but still slightly down, singing. Not what I expected, anyway. Along the lines of breaking expectations a synthetic bass and ghastly lead backs up the duo’s vocals. Its ballsy to start an album with a bittersweet ballad that isn’t without a key change. What would a ballad be without a key change or even a short breakdown to a lofi acoustic exit. Without a moments notice the beat picks up on the next track. “Its so far from me now”; the chorus of the “Bells of Cologne” may as well describe the location of my presumptions of where they will take me during the length of Imaginary Cities’ 12 song album Fall of Romance. Wherever they take me, its sure to be inspired at the very least.
Theatrical would be a good word to describe Imaginary Cities. They seem invested in providing emotionally tender moments through many filters, from the ghastly to the sublime. Some times it can come off as contrived, however. It sounds like they aim for each color instead of simply trying to make the best song they can. I am unsure if a song needed to go in a separate direction from their initial “concept” that they’d be willing to follow that direction. This is not necessarily a negative so much as it is the result of their theatrical nature, acting seems to be in their blood and I’d be surprised if non of them had a background in musical theater. As such, some songs come off more genuine than others, “Sooner or Later” is one such song. The gliding optimistic synth displayed in the intro and in the background throughout gives the singing the sublime backdrop it needs. But its not long before their flair for the dramatic makes another appearance, in this case the bridge comes in with a cinematic string section to try and hammer in the message.
I’m not sold on the order of songs here, too often bands place too little importance on the flow of an album but sometimes it can tip the scales. I feel like they ordered the songs for maximum dramatic effect but I don’t think they have that luxury quite yet. It may be the optimum order of songs for their die hard fans but newcomers may get turned off before they get a full range of Imaginary Cities capabilities and offerings. That would be moderately shameful, because they have a sound that many people are sure to eat up.