Even though punk music has gone through some horrid evolutions of late, it’s heartening to see the DIY spirit that made the genre so powerful still exists. Oakland retro-rockers Communiqué are quickly becoming masters of DIY production and the proof is in their newest EP Walk into the Light.
Communiqué has developed quite a loyal following over the last ten years, having released the brilliant full length Poison Arrows and a couple of EP’s on the Lookout! Label, and, before that, as the edgy punk group American Steel. Guitarists Ryan Massey and Rory Henderson, bassist John Peck, drummer Jamie Kissinger, and keyboardist Steve Loewinsohn continue their straight ahead retro sound, nodding to fellow rockers The Shins, Franz Ferdinand, Killers, and The Strokes along the way. Massey and Henderson layer highly charged guitar chops over a somber backing rhythm provided by Peck and Kissinger, highlighting the murky lyrical metaphors provided by Henderson’s turbulent words.
Much like their full length ventures, Walk into the Light creates an almost dream-like state, one in which the listener may imagine himself drowning in a deep depression. It’s not as dark as the late Ian Curtis’ work in Joy Division, but, at times, very close. The difference is Henderson and Communiqué don’t leave you adrift in their madness, unlike the disconsolate Curtis.
My only criticism is that Walk into the Light isn’t a full length. There is a connectedness to the songs that gets cut short much too soon. Just as I was settling into the musical frame Massey and Henderson have concocted, the album ended. Still, it’s an effort worth several listens for fans and those who appreciate a quirky, emo-inspired sound with enough leaking feedback to keep up the indie atmosphere that engulfs the band. While Communiqué may not get high marks for originality, they’ve delivered a divine mood piece filled with existential angst and pondering.
Punk has left many indelible etches upon the canvas of rock music. To that canvas we can add the memorable artistry of Communiqué and the sublime images cast on Walk into the Light.