Going for the hat trick, Connections have released their third excellent record of 2013, after the Private Airplane LP and Tough City EP. Unyieldingly committed to traditional rock ideals, Connections prove with Body Language that simplicity can make the old feel new again, sublimating their insistent pop hooks and classic-rock chops with economical songwriting and modest production values. It’s not as pointedly fuzzed out as Times New Viking, a similar band that shares a member with Connections, and would only qualify as “lo-fi” to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab herbs, but there’s an intentional abstraction here, a low intensity blur of distortion around the guitars that bleeds over everything, making the riffs and solos both rawer and stronger.
Don’t get the wrong idea, though—Connections are about songs, not noise or Stooge-style aggression. Enough so that power-pop devotees and old-time rockist hardliners alike could dig jams like “Summer Creeps,” which sounds like the best band in your practice space rebuilding the chord progression from Better Than Ezra’s “Good” into something that’s actually good. Downright anthems like “2 Makes 2” and “She’s Cheering Up” cast occasional tonal shifts in greater relief, from the woozy, dream-like “Blurry Eyes” and the acoustic restraint of “Green Skull” to the insightful pop song character study “Jeni and Johnny.” Body Language isn’t just a compendium of timeless riffs—there’s a delicacy and stateliness to the songwriting, an awareness that the best rock music requires brains and craft behind the fist-pumping, a union of the Beatles’ decorum, the Velvet Underground’s chaos and Wire’s discipline.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear these guys come from Ohio. Velvets-inspired weirdo rock has flourished in that state for decades, from ‘70s art-punks like the Electric Eels, to Times New Viking, to the entire life’s work of Columbus legend Ron House. Ohio’s legacy of pretense-free, middle class art-rock might be the cultural context from which Connections emerged, but Body Language’s reach and ambition isn’t confined to the band’s Midwestern origins. It’s music for anybody who likes a good time.
Connections are a rock band, again, which might sound anachronistic, but there’s still a power to that music, and Connections are as messy and triumphant and unassumingly vital as anybody else plowing these fields in the 21st century. Energetic and effortlessly catchy, Body Language is worth a spin from anybody who likes rock ’n’ roll. Seek it out.