Comet Gain - Réalistes LP

(Kill Rock Stars, 2002 - M'Lady's Records, 2017)


"The way the Romantic Revolutionaries in Comet Gain seamlessly yet authentically navigate through musical genres makes them the perfect band to listen to when you don’t know what to listen to. This is most apparent on their singles collection “Broken Record Prayers” where they bounce around from Stooges-style proto punk (“Beautiful Despair”), Surrealist poetry about the coif of a David Lynch bit part actor that also serves as a paean to the DIY pop music scene (“Jack Nance Hair”), Flirtations with Motown meets the Byrds (“If You Ever Walk Out of My Life”) to straight ahead punk (“Original Arrogance”) and wistful romantic near-misses alluding to Edwyn Collins’ band Orange Juice (“You Can Hide Your Love Forever”) as well as hyper-garagey covers of The Clean (“Beatnik”). Quite simply, Comet Gain cannot decide who they are from song to song, and this is a blessing for the listless listener as well as the careful one, since the complexity of the allusive lyrics rewards repeated re-listens.

The band, even at their most cohesive, succeed by way of pastiche, and Réalistes may be their most coherent album, marrying their radicalism with their simultaneously upper-case and lower-case R/romanticism in a way that reverberates throughout the whole album -- distinctive without being abrupt. The band is aggressively anti-commercial, in line with their low-key Marxist politics as evinced by 7”s titled “Say ‘Yes’ To International Socialism” or the tongue-in-cheek “Red Menace” or songs like “Labour” on this album, “Realistes."

Despite the occasional overtly political message, the band, which over the years has been comprised of a revolving cast of characters centered around songwriter David Feck, is primarily focused on bridging the gap between a lively emotional internal world of love and longing, that is not divorced of a highly allusive Situationist and Feminist aesthetic with a beatnik literary influence, as evinced by name-checking of characters like Herbert Hunke, the junky/poet who coined the “beat” phrase.

The connection between Riot Grrrl and Comet Gain may not be readily apparent sonically, but they emerged in the early 90’s very closely linked with ground zero for Riot Grrrl in the UK: Huggy Bear. Jon Slade played guitar in Huggy Bear and joined Comet Gain for this 2002 album, and played on later albums as well. Kathleen Hanna co-wrote and sings on “Ripped Up Suit.”

From the AM radio invocation song fragment at the beginning of upbeat rocker "Kids at the Club" to the brooding sincerity of “Why I Try To Look So Bad”, and then the desperate, urgent sense of feeling alone in the universe with the plaintive “I Close My Eyes To Think of God” (completing the phrase with “...but he’s not there, I close my eyes to think of you, and you ain’t there”) to the Replacements-style punkish earnestness of “My Defiance”, complete with a Westerberg-like vocal crack, evocative of teenage enthusiasm that is balanced by a polished, keys-lead chorus: this may be the strongest 4 song opening in the vast Comet Gain catalog." - Michael Feck for The Know Magazine