Communions have a way of shaking expectations. First off, their early work released on a Danish noise label Posh Isolation, but they were decidedly guitar-pop from top to bottom. Secondly, they shared a practice space with fellow Danish band, Iceage, which seems like illuminating information to include in a review until you listen to Communions and realize they don’t have an aural connection to Iceage at all. Furthermore, their releases building up to their debut, Blue, set up the listener for something altogether different than what was ultimately received. Communions started out as an audacious and loud rock band, but have settled into something entirely different. With Blue Communions have created triumphant power pop cheese. The highly respected Fat Possum label oversees the release.
2015 saw the release of two EPs of material from the young band. The first, Cobblestones was a kicking in of the proverbial door. The group came in loud and hip with rugged riffs and ghoulish distorted vocals dominating the mix. It sounds like Howler, another Strokes lifting group of the recent era. The next release, Communions, took all their ’80s New Wave influences and let them dominate the mix. A song like “Forget It’s a Dream” is so heavy on reverb and synth padding that it could be post-edited into a classic John Hughes film and few would notice. It all happened so quickly too. Fat Possum must have seen the rapid ascent and predicted the best because they picked them up soon after the release of Communions.
Blue snaps into your ears with “Come on, I’m Waiting”, which is such a melodically pleasing song that you don’t even notice how mediocre it is. That’s a paradox, I know, but that seems to be the effect of the album as a whole, though. At first impression, it’s dull. The mix gives nothing favor, so nothing is allowed to flex its superiority, which is what rock is, right? Furthermore, the lyrics are somewhat generic, full of “woe is me” and “your life is better than you think” tropes. “Passed You By” actually includes the lines, “On an on, when everything goes wrong, keep hanging on.” Although, mix it all together and keep a constant beat on that drum, and we have triumphant power pop cheese. It’s a fun, and easy listen, not requiring much from the listener.
On a side note, singer Martin Rehof always obscured his voice in the past, either with distortion or just lowering it in the mix. Not on Blue though. He lets his high-pitched instrument soak up a good chunk of the mix without shame. He sounds like a latter-day Chris Conley of Saves the Day, so basically, he sounds like he could be a pre-teen. That could prove to be quite divisive to many listeners, but for this reviewer, it just adds to the pleasurable sentimentality.
Overall, Communions are a serviceable band. Blue is a fine record from an already fine group. Although, I’m hoping that their rapid movements see them changing it up once again. They are so skilled at what they choose to do, let’s just hope they choose to do something a little more individual next time. As it is, I predict this album not getting the praise the group deserves.