Communions - Blue
(2017 Fat Possum)
When are we not in communion? In spite of the Internet's omnipresence/omnipotence, much of my web-surfing takes place under the cover of digital tabernacles: niche structures waterproof enough to thwart the shower of data trickling down my phone's screen. Buckets of rainwater collect what is useful to me and filter out the pollution.
The subculture; the group chat; the social media echo chamber - these are the places we gather to assume identity in the digital sphere. We are huddled tribes toasting s'mores on the campfires of our user-generated content. If anyone is familiar with the sectarian nature of the netscape, it should be Danish quartet Communions. Emerging from the then-trendy Scandinavian collective Posh Isolation in 2014, the post-punk outfit benefited from a sizeable buzz generated by the backing of label founder/Iceage frontman Elias Ronnenfelt and their blog-ready brand of lo-fi grit, squeezing icy squalls of garage rock into tight sonic containers. From the blurred resolution of their Cobblestones EP to the faceless figures that graced the covers of their discography, Communions' output seemed to come from a place of remoteness: the stylish impersonality of online demi-stardom.
That's what makes their first full-length LP, Blue, such a refreshing effort: raising previously-closed venetian blinds of fuzz, Communions make the dramatic nosedive into clarity suggested by aquatic album artwork that bears a heavy resemblance to Siouxsie and the Banshees' The Scream.
While Blue may visually suggest the sound of Goth's industrial conception in the late-70s to early-80s, its 11 tracks are more spiritually in tune with The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" than "A Forest" - it's an idealistic, bright-eyed explosion of power pop that revels in lyrical ambiguity. Martin Rehof's ductile vocals rocket from the springy surface of opener "Come On, I'm Waiting", slicing through constellatory new-wave riffage:
"I've been up and I've been down / I've been lost and I've been found.../Turn me into Blue"
Communions flaunt their newfound accessibility on the following cut, "Today", recalling the wiry indie-pop of Phoenix and The Strokes. Ambitious lead melodies are gravitationally pulled back to manageable heights by gloomy acoustic chords, forming a ripple of optimism that bubbles at the tune's surface.
Blue is best at its most unabashedly cheesy. Cases in point: the lovely little flute-like synth that strings the bridge of "Eternity" to its chorus, the blues-rock twang that peppers "Midnight Child", and especially the churchbell trills of guitar that open "She's a Myth". Though not a groundbreaking project, the record is teeming with enough anthemic energy to stay in rotation for months to come. It's a giant leap from fragmentation to singularity - from communion to ite, missa est!