Highlights: Clang Of The Concrete Swans, The Weekend Dreams, An Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls, After Midnight, After It’s All Gone Wrong, Some Of Us Don’t Want To Be Saved
Over the years Comet Gain have kept their characteristically low profile with some admirable dedication. But their melodic, Go-Betweens-styled take on C86 has only matured and gained in terms of substance, consistency and personality. This is good. Almost 20 years in business, it is only now that they are releasing their best albums. First, City Fallen Leaves (2005), and now the long-awaited release of Howl Of The Lonely Crowd.
The album is Edward Collins’ production, and it shows. Gentle or rough, the record always sounds incredibly crisp and not unlike early Orange Juice. Not in terms of music, though: musically (and I’ve already mentioned this before), Comet Gain sound like a lusher version of The Pastels with no out-of-tune singing. As ever, there are anguished, slow-burning ballads (arguably their best ever) alternated with twee-tinged punk of The Fall circa Cerebral Caustic. And not a weak tune in sight. Well, a couple of tracks do seem slightly half-baked or throwawayish (particularly towards the end), but even those have their redeeming features in short length, emotional vocals or lovely fingerpicking. Perhaps the only song I could do without is the deliberately ugly and relatively primitive punk number “Herbert Huncke Prt 2”. The rest is top-notch, catchy and smart. You haven’t heard a more memorable or gorgeous (and gorgeously constructed) song than “Some Of Us Don’t Want To Be Saved” all year, I can assure you.
Besides the thrilling melodies, the greatest thing about Howl Of The Lonely Crowd is how confident the band sounds at this stage. And how life-affirming the vibe is (even when they sing about bathroom suicides and stuff). Just fills you with sheer mindless optimism. “Cheap desire to be” indeed.