Highlights: Long After Tonite’s Candles Are Blown, ‘Sad Love’ And Other Short Stories, Wait ‘Til December, Confessions Of A Daydream
Comet Gain are back. Which is a rather strange thing to say as they haven’t really been away. But the truth of the matter is – I more or less forget about this band’s existence once the wistful sugar rush of their previous album subsides and I have to face grim reality. I do of course play Réalistes and City Fallen Leaves now and then, but that’s a very rare now and then. In fact, the typically inconspicuous release of Paperback Ghosts was something of a sweet and pleasant surprise.
Paperback Ghosts is the band’s seventh album in – Jesus God – over twenty years. Over time Comet Gain’s post-punk edge has dissolved into twee pop into romantic indie rock. It’s not such a big deal. They are still hopelessly British, even if this latest album wasn’t produced by Edwyn Collins. And David Feck is still an excellent songwriter, even if he has gone rather soft here. The youthful idealism of his voice still makes me this much happier.
Howl Of The Lonely Crowd this may be not, but there’s a perfect album in here. Side A is perfect. Six brilliant pop songs of articulate melodies, lovely vibes, affecting violins. The lyrically and musically catchy “Long After Tonite’s Candles Are Blown” is as good an opener as they’ve ever recorded. “Sad Love' And Other Short Stories” has that irresistible vocal hook. “Behind The House She Lived In” is two infectiously scorching minutes with Rachel Evans. The soul-melting “Wait ‘Til December” is this album’s most gorgeous ballad. The rough-edged “Breaking Open The Head Part 1” is a punkish blast with a good echoey guitar effect. “The Last Love Letter” is confessional and awkward and well-written and cynical bastards stay away.
Then we get into an admittedly faceless territory with five perfectly decent songs of sweet little nothing. A couple of memorable melodic twists here and there, but I bet David Feck could write that stuff in his sleep. Thankfully, “Confessions Of A Daydream” arrives at the very end – and all is forgiven. All you love about Comet Gain is there in glorious and clumsy and unaffected six minutes.
These twelve songs are about as far away from saving the world as you can get. But please note how the last words on this album go: ‘Every little nothing is some kind of something’. If anything, Paperback Ghosts is certainly that. Some kind of something. Something genuinely good. Precious. Unpretentious. Maybe a little timeless, maybe not.