Comet Gain - Howl Of The Lonely Crowd

Holloway sweethearts, bus ride romantics, drunk and angry, lovelorn and drunk.

Holloway sweethearts, bus ride romantics, drunk and angry, lovelorn and drunk. Find comfort in movies, find solace in books, dance hard, dance harder. Dance. Harder. Put your faith in 45s, dress sharp, wear your heart on your sleeve, let your soul shake, let your foot stomp, be the kids at the club that are hot enough, that are falling in love.

The Comet Gain mission statement writes itself, has written itself large for the best part of 20 years of scuffed-up love for Dexy’s, Northern Soul, 80s indie aesthetic, The Fall and The Velvet Underground. All the albums are good; Casino Classics and Magnetic Poetry are genuinely great, 2002’s Réalistes is the must-own record of the last ten years that no-one owns. Howl Of The Lonely Crowd might not be must-own, but it’s sure as hell should-own. If this is your starting point for the band then start here, apart from the shiny and clean Magnetic Poetry, this is Comet Gain when they’re at their easiest, when they’re on their most ferocious pop form. If this is just adding to your collection then, man, you’re going to love it.

It’s hard to say just how much influence co-producer Edywn Collins has had on the record, but they’ve rarely sounded more focused, perhaps they just did what he told them. You don’t argue with Edywn Collins do you? Either way the songs sound fuller than before, more complete. ‘Clang Of The Concrete Swans’ opens the album; it could be their most straightforwardly big-chorused pop moment since ‘Strength’ if it wasn’t so lyrically bleak in its wondering how you escape dead-end options and tower block despair. The answer, as it always seems to be with this band is in your dreams, in your heart; ‘Find the forever in what you’re thinking. Find the forever in who you’re kissing.’

‘The Weekend Dreams’ is the Comet Gain blueprint condensed into three minutes. They’ve always found the romance in 5.00pm Friday, in the start of the weekend but as “I’ve got a cheap desire to be, With someone eager to be free” hints at, they’ve also always recognised the tragic desperation in that romance, recognised how fleeting those moments are and how quickly 9.00am Monday comes round again.

The second half of the record is more subdued and reflective, and suffers a bit for it but still contains some quintessential Comet Gain moments. ‘A Memorial For Nobody I Know’ is the requisite spoken word track (it’s fine, if Kevin Rowland did spoken word songs then we know they’re a good thing) and finds David Feck forlornly intoning “We hold on to things obsolete and half recalled, some of which never happened at all, to keep us safe and whole and warm” which is just horribly, depressingly, perceptive. Though at least it re-assures that other people are feeling it too.

“Don’t you break, it’s just the memory ache” is a proper “ouch, that hurts my heart” moment during ‘After Midnight, After It’s All Gone Wrong’, but it’s ‘Some Of Us Don’t Want To Be Saved’ that’s the highlight. A gently bruising song about hope and hopelessness, about taking chances or giving up, about your own significance in life “The chipped brick, that holds up the building, that holds the world together”. It’s really very beautiful.

They’re an inspiration really; how long do you stay angry for? Why should you care when the realisation kicks in that it might just be you that feels this way, that your passion alone isn’t going to change the world? Comet Gain don’t seem to have ever asked these questions, they’ve probably never occurred. You just keep caring. You just keep dancing. As they say on ‘Thee Ecstatic Library‘ “The music will save you, again and again”.

Tags: Comet Gain, Reviews, Album Reviews

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