About Your Imaginary Friend is the debut album from Philadelphia’s Oolong. This record injects new blood into midwest emo and math rock. Twinkly guitar riffs interweave between sections of blistering hardcore, grounded on absolutely stellar drumming. The band expertly switches through the highs and the lows, flipping from sensitive to abrasive in a blink of an eye. The record is boldly unpredictable, with plenty of change-ups in rhythms and sections that can seemingly come from nowhere. Although the band offers no notable innovations in terms of sound, every part of the emo formula is done with great execution. From the guttural screams to the string sweeping sections. But it’s the rhythm that takes the cake. Drummer Sam Becht not only carries these changes with split-second transitions, he also finds himself spots for some sweet fills.
I usually don’t comment about the sequencing of tracks in an album, as I don’t find its relevance most of the time. But this one really entertained me, and it makes sense once you hear it.
The first three tracks are so perfectly transitioned that they could pass up as a whole track on their own. “About Your Imaginary Friend” is a raw and stripped down introduction that tells you what’s in store for the next thirty minutes. “Welcome to Destiny Island” is a complete 180 from its slow and twinkly predecessor. It sprints and rushes like a hardcore mosher before breaking down on languid stroll, but only until it’s time to speed up again. “Roxies and Cigarettes”, is the most pop-friendly tune of the three. Leveling out the energies of the first two tracks to make way for the rest.
“Miller’s High Life” is a slow burn that provides a refreshing breather. By this time we’ve already been introduced to the band’s juvenile tendencies, with plenty of references to substance abuse and alcohol. This song captures that after-party feeling when you’re about to go home, wasted and topped with the fresh taste of regret on your mouth. Still, the song ends with a restless note: “Maybe this is a bad dream / I should wake the fuck up”.
My favorite cut is “Dude It’s Painfully Obvious”, which stretches the band’s chops in arrangement and songwriting. Contrary to its title, this is compositionally the most unpredictable song in the album, and trying to follow it is a treat in itself. It captures the feeling of losing a friend over a beef with a thunderstorm of erratic riffs and stop-and-go changes.
Fans of the genre will find Oolong as a solid addition to their playlist. It may not add anything necessarily new, but it is a fun and well-crafted experience.