New York City’s post-punk, art-rock ensemble Imaginary People return with an irreverent, amphetamine-fueled new track “Renegade,” lifted from the band’s forthcoming album Alibi due later this year.
Any music worth its salt will reflect the times it’s made in. It’ll absorb the atmosphere of everything around it, hold up a mirror to what’s happening in the lives of the people who made it and also the wider world outside.
That’s exactly what Imaginary People aims to portray in Alibi, the band’s third full-length album. It is, as frontman Dylan Von Wagner, explains, a response to the cultural civil war that he sees unfolding all across the USA. That cultural dystopia bristles through Alibi’s 11 songs.
The band – consisting of Mark Roth (guitar), Justin Repasky (keys/synth), Kolby Wade (drums), Bryan Percivall (bass/synth), and with additional synth work by Grant Zubritsky – have not just perfectly captured the times in which this record was written, but have managed to turn the nightmare of the modern world into something truly exquisite, pitting emotional vulnerability against an almost resigned stoicism.
Just listen to the way that Von Wagner’s voice trembles on the albums opener “It’s Simple,” the tenderly mournful opener written minutes after the singer watched the gun massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School unfold on live television.
Listen to the tentative fragility and dark romanticism of “Bronx Girl” and the jittery “Neon Age” which rails against a world in which people present a different version of their lives to society in order to impress them.
“It’s a giant sh*t on Instagram,” Von Wagner says matter-of-factly. “I have no problem with people using it, but everybody’s just making up their life to be their own little movie, and I think it’s making a lot of people mentally ill.”
While there are glimpses of light throughout the darkness that permeates every aspect of Alibi – one that captures the nature of what humanity has become – and while its songs do reflect the harsh, bleak reality of being alive – it also manages to exist on its own, and in its own terms.
The official video for “Renegade,” directed by Dylan Von Wagner, is out today. Von Wagner says, “After spending two nights in jail for trespassing in an empty warehouse we found the ‘right’ one and performed an exorcism!”
Alibi is being recorded by Phil Weinrobe (Nick Murphy, Pussy Riot, Stolen Jars) at Rivington 66 in the band’s home of New York City, as well as upstate with Eli Crews (Tuneyards, Deerhoof, Xylouris White) at Spillway Sound in the Catskills and mixed by Crews at Figure 8 in Brooklyn.
Imaginary People have created an album that shimmers with a twisted beauty, which feeds off all of that disturbing substance and turns it into something both harrowing and beautiful.
“Renegade” is now on all streaming platforms. The release follows up the album’s two pre-release singles, “Hometown” and “Crazy Eight.”
“Hometown” was described by PopMatters as “landing somewhere between ’80s stadium rock (The Alarm, War-era U2) and latter day saints such as the War on Drugs.” Both songs are available now to listen and share on streaming services.