Communicant: Sun Goes Out
Communicant: Sun Goes Out
Communicant is the brainchild of Dylan Gardner, who wrote, recorded, produced, and played most of the instruments on Sun Goes Out, the debut full-length effort that consists of heavily psychedelic pop-rock.
The primary influence here is The Beatles. Many bands have built their sound around The Beatles—not surprisingly, as the Fab Four continue to be the most influential band in recording history. Sun Goes Out not only sounds like The Beatles; it sounds rather specifically like the Revolver album. Being that Revolver is the most popular album by the world’s most popular band, that’s a pretty good choice for an artist to hone in on. That’s not to say that The Beatles are the only influence on the record. You can hear traces of The Zombies, the Beach Boys, and ELO as well. Gardner does a masterful job of creating a wonderfully tripped-out record that incorporates many of the sounds of 60s psychedelia. For lovers of 60s psych, the album is like sugar.
For lovers of 60s psych, the album is like sugar.
The album is mostly upbeat and laden throughout with various 60s psych-pop tricks of the trade and psychedelic production. Gardner’s lead vocals are reverb-heavy, but fortunately not as much as some of today’s neo-psych bands. There’s an additional effect on the vocals that gives his voice an electrified sound. Distorted lead guitar parts reminiscent of George Harrison’s Revolver contributions permeate the album. There are some stand-out bass lines as well and, at times, you’ll hear some Ringo-like drum fills.
The opening track “She Moves the Sky” has some heavily-filtered Beatle-esqu backing vocals, a bouncy verse, and those Harrison-like lead parts.
“Sun Goes Out” is uber-melodic with some sitar-sounding guitar riffage, Ringo-esque drums, and a nice little echo on the vocal parts at the end.
“Fang” has a sneaky sound with a bass walk and some spooky background sounds while “Prisoner Cloud” has a harder edge to it than the other songs on the album and could be accurately described as power pop.
“Come Down” is another acid-drenched number with more sitar-sounding guitar licks. It’s strong psychedelia put to a pop beat with a chorus of “Heyyy…never come down”.
With a plodding beat, “Plastic People” may be the most accessible song on the album as it appears to be commentary on a subject that most people can identify with—phony types—like the kind you see all over Gardner’s home base of Los Angeles.
The karmic-themed “Waiting to Be Born” is beautiful song that includes a nice vibrato vocal part at one point.
Communicant has created a groovy retro vibe that will titillate lovers of 60s psych.
“The Wheel” is another beautifully melodic song that is synth-heavy and trippy. There’s a curious line that runs throughout: “I’m using up my time”.
“Housefly” sounds more like modern neo-psych than the rest of the album. It’s not difficult to imagine, say, Ariel Pink (heheh) playing keyboards on this one.
The final track “Feel Like I’m Dying” features dreamy, spacey keyboards which give it a more contemporary feel to it as well. It sounds a bit like Tame Impala.
Overall, the record is delightful. It’s exceptionally well-produced and executed with great harmony vocals and trippy electronic effects. It’s like a hazy, whimsical, drugged-out bubblegum record that seems to include just about every psychedelic production component from the Beatles and other psychedelic 60s groups rolled into one. Without question, Communicant has created a groovy retro vibe that will titillate lovers of 60s psych.
On the other hand, the record is obviously very derivative, which is fine. Clearly, Gardner wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with this record and, as such, he doesn’t break any new ground.
For all its trippy goodness, the album lacks any real emotional impact. Without the emotional component, the album does not ascend to greatness. It’s a very good album, to be sure, but great albums tend to have an emotional punch on at least some of the songs.
Additionally, the lyrics are hard to decipher through all the production glitz. While the reverb level is lower than that of many contemporary psych releases, it’s still virtually impossible to make out more than one line at a time. When you can hear the lyrics relatively clearly, they don’t seem to go anywhere. They sound like trippy, whimsical lyrics, but it’s difficult to attribute any meaning to them.
Still, Gardner has made a debut full-length album worth listening to. The attention to detail on the production is superb, as is Gardner’s execution. Suns Goes Out is a beautifully melodic, ultra-psychedelic record that psych enthusiasts will likely adore.