Society Of Imaginary Friends - Sadness Is A Bridge To Love

Owain Paciuszko 25/05/2008

Rating: 4/5

The debut album from SOIF opens with a strange and eerie echo of accordian, a tremulous string swell and the near operatic voice of Louise Kleboe. They are, on the one hand, a band, but on the other, this is so much closer to classical music - moreso even than the grand orchestral works of bands such as Sigur Ros. This is experimental and avant-garde in a love-it-or-hate-it kind of way. What is clear though, from the off, is that this is intelligently and passionately arranged music with a surreal, art-house cinematic bent. There's both a richness and a sparsity to the sound, it's drenched in a wealth of atmosphere whilst feeling oddly performance based; like an performance art piece. It's an album of conflict and contrast, and that could be where it draws its greatest plaudits and detractors.

To continue the cinematic comparison, and imagine this is a term you may hear a fair bit in reference to their music, it's definitely David Lynchian - occupying a hauntingly dreamlike space that has the power to both enthrall and confound. The band themselves have worked with a host of film directors and the importance placed upon the visual and aristic perception of their work is not lost upon them. The music itself is very evocative and feeds the imagination of the listener; lyrically the songs seem to also occupy that middleground between sleeping and wakefulness and the album forges into a rather surreal piece of pseudo-aural-theatre, so potent is its imagery that you feel like you are experiencing a multimedia installation even when just listening to the songs alone.

This is a strange album, it's a beautiful and accomplished piece that blurs lines between genre and perception, it's both hauntingly retrospective but distinctly modern ('For Those Online' speaks of Facebook!), it feels like an alternative and baffling soundtrack to this contemporary world. Though this is not for everyone it is an amazing, weird and exceptional piece of work.