CD Review of Communion by The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives: Communion
Recommended if you like
The Who, Pink Floyd, Love
Label
Yep Roc
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives:
Communion

Reviewed by Jim Washington

()

S
o this little Swedish band has released maybe the biggest album of the new(ish) year.

Not in the commercial sense, of course. The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ fifth album, Communion, won’t make a dent in anyone’s charts. But at 24 songs over two discs, featuring more than 90 minutes of soaring, catchy psychedelic rock, it can definitely be called "big."

TSOOL are nowhere near as pretentious as their name, and album titles such as Extended Revelation for the Psychic Weaklings of Western Civilization, might lead you to believe. Most people are probably aware of the band from the minor radio hit "Sister Surround," from 2001’s Behind the Music, but TSOOL has been plying its psych-pop trade since its first album, Welcome to the Infant Freebase, came out in 1996. The core of the band -- singer Ebbott Lundberg and guitarist Bjorn Olsson -- founded the group Union Carbide Productions in the late ‘80s, then moved on to TSOOL with additional guitarist Ian Person to follow the psychedelic muse.

Soundtrack of Our Lives

Communion could be seen as a culmination of the band’s fascination with early Pink Floyd and Love, mixed with a bit of the stomp and swagger of the Who and the Rolling Stones. It’s a loose concept album concerning the alienation of the modern world, but it never hits you over the head with its ideas – in fact, that’s just my interpretation of the songs; I’ve also read a reference to each of the 24 songs reflecting a different hour of the day. While other recent releases from artists as diverse as Beck, My Morning Jacket and Bloc Party have addressed similar concerns by incorporating the sounds of technology, TSOL instead reaches back to the past.

The album opener, "Babel On," starts out slowly, with a throbbing bassline and hypnotic drums, before building to a crescendo as Lundberg encourages us to "communicate as one…turn the tower of Babel on, come on!" The album builds from that strong opening, with garage rockers "Ra 88," (possibly a nod to "Rocket 88") and the Stonesy "Mensa Marauders," plus the excellent "Pictures of Youth," which brings to mind an early Who song (again with the titles -- a reference to "Pictures of Lily"?) A full-on cover of Nick Drake’s "Fly" is also a welcome addition. Disc Two is more Arthur Lee than Pete Townsend, showcasing a more baroque side of the power pop world. The message continues to resonate on songs like "Reconnecting the Dots," with its refrain of "reconnect and die."

Communion is the band’s best effort to date, a grand achievement that bodes well for the future. Let’s see what comes next.

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