Album Review: Little Comets – In Search of Elusive Little Comets

By on Friday, 14th January 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Your debut single tanks. Or maybe it’s not really that bad: it just doesn’t move as many units as your major record company would like. So your band gets dropped (and your oh so lovable former label holds your album hostage). Lesser bands get knocked over and never recover from such disappointment and heartbreak, but Newcastle’s Little Comets seem to have taken getting cut from Columbia’s roster in stride. The proof: their engaging debut album released at the end of this month, ‘In Search of Elusive Little Comets’.

The spirited Geordie foursome – brothers Robert (lead vocals and guitar) and Michael (lead guitar) Coles, Matt Hall (bass) and Mark Harle (drums) – have put together a set of 11 songs that for the most part is good stuff and definitely worth checking out. This album is a refreshing kick in the pants, so much that I was having trouble coming up with a way to explain this band’s sound. Instead, I’m going for a more primitive, less intellectual explanation. John Lennon famously once described the source of the Beatles’ name as from them playing “beat music”, and such a description seems appropriate for Little Comets. There is no escaping the relentless drumming and bass lines, and indeed, even the bouncy, sometimes jarring staccato vocal delivery of Robert Coles. Saying this is merely pop music would be doing this band a great disservice, as this is far smarter and complex than the average pop album these days.

At their best moments, Little Comets make your pulse race as your heart soars, thanks to fun melodies and thumping beats. ‘Joanna’, which initially may be difficult for your brain to process because of Robert Coles’s yelping, will quickly burrow into your mind, eventually causing random fits of dancing around your room/office/in your car, arms in the air. As its name suggests, ‘Dancing Song’ doesn’t disappoint; ‘One Night in October’ (promo video below) and the topically more serious ‘Adultery’ don’t either, and I expect punters to be pogoing to these numbers as the band goes on tour in support of this release in the coming weeks.

The most interesting tracks on ‘In Search of Elusive Little Comets’ are ‘Lost Time’, a song utilising, what else, thudding bass and drums (as well synths) to propel the romantic storyline, and ‘Isles’, which is a bittersweet ‘letter’ to the British public, warning against complacency. I smiled hearing the latter for the first time, as it reminded me of Morrissey’s name-checking British cities in the Smiths’ ‘Panic’, this song even contains the line “panic in the streets” but mostly mentions non-English towns (examples: Dundee, Glasgow, and Cardiff).

Less successful is where the band strays from the rhythm-driven formula. While featuring admirable guitar work, the ‘Her Black Eyes’ falls flat against the dancier numbers. ‘Intelligent Animals’ is an admirable stab at bringing attention to the death and destruction from the ongoing civil war in Darfur, Africa. But it’s a disappointing way to end a pop album. And although ‘Tricolour’ has a tropical beat vibe, it’s almost like the band is trying too hard with the recipe, resulting in a second-rate caricature of their other, better songs. But these are lesser offences and should be forgiven when considering the album as a whole. There is plenty of evidence on this recording that Little Comets have fine songwriting talent, so much that Columbia execs should be kicking themselves right about now for letting them go.

2010 was a banner year of Manchester bands. My prediction for 2011: it’s time for the bands from the Northeast to shine. With a strong debut from Newcastle’s Little Comets, the case is made for us to take a closer look at that region of England, for I’m sure there are plenty of other gems of bands just waiting to be discovered from there.

8/10

‘In Search of Elusive Little Comets’ will be released on 31 January on Dirty Hit Records.

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5 Responses

11:05 pm
15th January 2011

you may find “intelligent animals” a disapointing way to end a pop album as the little comets are not merley a pop band, but an indie band. You should really reasearch your subjects more thoroughly before submitting your reviews.

9:07 pm
16th January 2011

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating the ‘pop’ qualities of a record, regardless of what label a band is on. There’s nothing about being ‘indie’ that guarantees greatness or originality.

2:23 am
17th January 2011

In my opinion Intelligent Animals is a beautiful song and a very good one to close the record. I find it very enjoyable when a band with pop tunes takes it slow for once (see Down by the water by the Drums). Intelligent Animals shows originality and creativity that makes Little Comets more than a mere pop band. This song is close to Vampire Weekend or Sufjan Stevens, which is great.

7:11 pm
18th January 2011

have and always will be an indie band. Intelligent animals is a incredible song along with her black eyes that show a differant side to them. Variety at its best.

[…] as even the least popular tracks from their debut ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets’ (Mary’s review here) fill the room. Of course, the big cheers are reserved for the singles though. New single […]

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