Published May 21, 2013Imaginary Cities' debut album, Temporary Resident, earned the Winnipeg band plenty of accolades, including a Polaris Music Prize nomination, and now the group are back with the follow-up. Fall of Romance is out on May 28 through Hidden Pony Records, and the entire thing is available to stream ahead of time right here on Exclaim.ca.
The album features the core duo of Rusty Matyas and Marti Sarbit joined by a host of notable collaborators. Andrew Scott of Sloan plays drums on two songs, and Ewan Currie of the Sheepdogs lends his voice to a track. Plus, several members of Mother Mother pitch in: Ryan Guldemond sings and Jeremy Page plays sax, while Molly Guldemond designed the artwork.
Speaking with Exclaim!, Matyas talks excitedly about Currie's contribution to "Who's Watching You." The multi-instrumentalist enthuses, "He brings some balls to that song for sure. I love his voice. I think he's got the best voice since Burton Cummings or Freddie Mercury — he's got one of the most classic, powerful, pure rock'n'roll voices. It was almost a selfish endeavour for me to have a song with him on it on our record because I love his voice."
Matyas notes that this song also features Guldemond's vocals. "They have two very distinct and different voices, and they're actually harmonizing," he says.
While "Who's Watching You" is driving and rock-oriented, other songs on Fall of Romance delve into vintage orchestral pop ("Chasing the Sunset"), acoustic balladry ("A Way with Your Words") and quirky barroom piano ("Silver Lining").
"I became more comfortable arranging songs instrumentally and knowing what I wanted to fill certain gaps. I became a fan of grandiose production and wall of sound [arrangements]," Matyas says of the collection's ornate sound. "I knew I liked strings. There's a lot of cool albums that came out since our last record that I really enjoyed the production of, like Band of Horses and stuff like that. I wanted to have it nice and big and lush."
In addition to swooning strings, the album includes elements of the band's original practice space demos, along with some field recordings made on Matyas' cellphone. "Bells of Cologne" incorporates bells captured in — you guessed it — Cologne, while "Water Under the Bridge" features a snippet of children playing at Rushing River Campground in Ontario.
"That was the same trip that I proposed to my wife," remembers Matyas. "Right after that, we were having a fire and celebrating, and there were these kids playing and I voice-noted, on my iPhone, the sound of the fire and the sound of these kids jumping into the lake, and then we went and sat by the lake and watched the sunset, and there's where I came up with the song 'Chasing the Sunset.' Because it was such a good moment, and how can you make that last? You just chase it around the world."
Catch Imaginary Cities on the road at the dates listed here. Listen to Fall of Romance right here.