COMMUNICAUTION - Unfixed
It is no secret that I had my initial reservations about Communicaution, the erstwhile solo project by Eric Rosenfeld who is better known as the vocalist and guitarist for Luxembourg punk rock band Versus You. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it’s been nearly nine years since the artist’s solo debut album This Monkey Is An Artist, which was an acoustic album without much help from outside.
Since then, Eric has grown, or rather: matured, and should now be in his early Thirties. Versus You are still going strong, and Communicaution had to play second fiddle for some time, even though quite a lot of demos were released on the project’s Bandcamp page.
Even though Eric is still the sole songwriter behind Communicaution, they can now be considered a duo, since recording engineer Charel Stoltz has done many instrumental contributions on the second album Unfixed. We have become used to Roselfeld’s albums running only for half an hour, but then it is his conviction that everything important can be transmitted in that interval. And he is definitely right, as I can testify after listening to this huge surprise of an album.
First of all, only two or three tracks are acoustic-only material. The remaining songs are either electrified but still mellow, or even sometimes truly rock, showing the artist’s growing range of influences over the years. And Eric Rosenfeld has never been afraid of hiding his predilections. It’s mostly bands that spawned careers of solo musicians: Big Star and Alex Chilton, The Replacements and Paul Westerberg, Hüsker Dü and Bob Mould, but also icons like Neil Young and Tom Petty. This means that we get a suspenseful mix between Seventies power pop and country tinged Americana.
And now let’s start at the beginning. Only Sounds OK is an upbeat opener with acoustic and electric guitars, telling the listener how that artist is making music because he wants to and doesn’t need anyone’s recognition of blessing. Smoke Of The First Fires is a more melancholic track where the parallels to Big Star seem quite obvious. Nonetheless is this a supreme act of songwriting, and not the only one on the album. The short Come Clean is a ballad played mostly on acoustic guitar, but the slide guitar and the hushed female backing vocals add a warming Americana touch. The album’s first single Make No Sound is so far the best song I have heard from Communicaution, even though I misheard the initial lyrics for “At the crack of dawn, I pee no more” instead of “I’ll be no more”. The rousing chorus should give you goosebumps, and there’s even a guitar solo concluding this track which with its three and a half minutes should be considered an epic in the framework of Communicaution’s output. The second single Life Takes A Lifetime is a sweet ballad, but am I wrong when I think that Eric’s vocals have been slightly autotuned?
I won’t go into each and every single track now, but want to point out the grungy Run On Empty which I wouldn’t have expected from Communicaution, and the concluding Someone By My Side which is a rather successful attempts at a rock’n’roll or even rockabilly song.
I was not overly excited to give Unfixed a go, and find myself now shamed at how great Communicaution sound on this second official CD. There is hardly anything innovative or original about Eric’s music, but he is such an astonishing songwriter that he doesn’t have to hide his influences. The last Versus You album, also only half an hour short, was really pleasant, but Unfixed goes that one step further by being totally unpredictable and this being suspenseful and rewarding from the first to the last note. This is a masterpiece and will be remembered by many generations to come.