After three EPs in 2014, Newcastle-based English band Little Comets returns with its third album since its 2009 debut.
There is more of the group’s feel-good indie rock on Hope is Just a State of Mind. Opener My Boy William sounds as if it were recorded in a bathroom- most likely to get those amazing acoustics. The themes of this guitar and vocal piece may venture towards the cynical, with lyrics about losing faith in rock n’ roll and the hope that the persona’s future son would ‘stay true enough to dream’. Despite this and demonic wails of backwards guitars panning left to right adding to the track’s sense of doom, Robert Coles’ earnest vocals and the band’s off-kilter rhythm manage to keep this track a light, entertaining bop.
The swinging, yet almost industrial-sounding B&B informs listeners of the band’s ability to hammer down infuriatingly fun hooks (‘no, take me back’ is bound to be one such earworm). Other offerings like the refreshing, groovy and pulsating Gift of Sound, the lo-fi shuffle of Formula and the otherwise forlorn The Daily Grind showcase tight vocal harmonies.
There are eccentric moments aplenty. Little Italy’s soundscape is especially breezy, mystical and watery enough for listeners to immerse themselves in, with its randomly shimmering guitar licks and melodies that undulate like erratic Venetian waters. The otherwise bright Salt jitters uneasily with its pattering percussion and intermittent, child-like ‘pow pow’s in the background. The melodies in the choruses are all over the place, tumbling up and down like a ship caught in a storm and contributing to a sense of spooky claustrophobia. This is the band’s Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush moment where things get a bit bat-shit crazy, even after the slower, more musically conventional bridge. Effetism is a bizarre yet lovely psychedelic moment. The opening glittery guitar licks, chimes that shine like angel fairy-dust and smooth bass that keep things feather-light for the first 90 seconds suddenly give way (in a brilliant twist) to a propulsive, compelling finale that really should have closed the album.
Wherewithal’s stop-start rhythm combined with effortless, quirky falsettos and playful guitar licks is another engaging highlight. Fundamental Little Things takes a while to build up momentum, before a deceptively simple chorus hits hard and blistering bridge shows off some quality guitar solos without being too bombastic. The disco-lite penultimate track Don’t Fool Yourself has another chorus that will be hard for listeners to get out of their head and anthem-like bridge, despite mediocre, robotic verses.
The Blur, the Line & the Thickest of Onions has a shady title; this reviewer thinks it’s a jab at Robin Thicke and Blurred Lines. It is a serious, stripped-back moment bogged down by heavy beats and preachy lyrics that sound as if the persona were apologising on behalf of all men to the female race. It’s well-intentioned, but is nonetheless a bit of a downer to end the album.
Little Comets’ latest effort does, for the most part, bring hope to listeners that there is digestible, melodic indie rock that goes beyond the tried-and-true with the occasionally left-of-centre production touch.