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Society of Imaginary Friends: Sadness is a Bridge to Love

Reviewed By: Andrew Carver
Label: Soif Music
Format: CD

The Society of Imaginary Friends is an offshoot of the well-regarded indie outfit Band of Holy Joy. That band’s Alfie Thomas and Chris Brierley have teamed with the luscious-voiced Louise Kleboe to create an early contender for album of the year.

Kleboe’s singing has also attracted comparisons to Scott Walker. One can certainly hear the resemblance in her phrasing and tendency to head for the melodic path less taken on songs like the opener ‘The Moors’. The orchestral accompaniment provided by Thomas and Brierley burnish the whole with a stately grandeur.

Kleboe’s warm and intimate tones also have some of the special radiance of Kate Bush. Like Bush her voice puts a slightly eldritch spin on the lyrics, turning them into fairytales and lullabies.

On some a tiny handful of performers create an entrancing backdrop – just accordion, organ, Brierley’s violin and Kleboe’s massed vocals on the spectral ‘Nursery of Day and Night’, even less on ‘Going Home’. Alfie Thomas proves an effective orchestral arranger on several songs, even turning to satire on ‘For Those Online’, which needles the world of social networking websites to a musical setting that would suit a James Bond theme.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Night of Power’ strikes a pose somewhere between Arvo Part and Calexico. ‘The Easy Way’ slices at the nerves with some strident violin, while ‘Flower on the Wall' would be well-suited to one of Nick Cave’s later film noir ditties. One can definitely hear echoes of Bush in the melancholy ‘The Lovely Rain’, which could easily have come off ‘The Kick Inside’ with Kleboe stretching her voice to its highest register while Thomas plays raindrop piano and Brieley’s violin casts a melancholy shadow.

With so many gems in its 10 tracks, it’s a can’t-miss proposition for any fan of well-structured pop or ace female vocalists. It should particularly appeal to fans of Bush, Walker or their sundry followers

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