They’ll get you singing along and digging out your dancing shoes.
Mike Haydock 2011
Little Comets had to wrestle this debut album from the clutches of Columbia – the label dropped them at the beginning of 2010. Finally, 12 months on, it sees the light of day, and it will leave you with one overriding thought: Columbia must have been mad to let Little Comets go.
The North East certainly has a ‘sound’ these days: the angular art-rock of The Futureheads and Maxïmo Park has spread throughout the region. And there’s plenty of that to be found in this debut. The rhythms are jerky and perky; the melodies and vocal harmonies come thick and fast; the lyrics are full of kitchen sink dramas. But Little Comets draw from a broader palette than that, also borrowing tricks from Razorlight, The Kooks and Mystery Jets to create a commercial record that’s smoothed out at the edges.
That’s why Columbia’s decision feels strange: because nearly every song here is a potential radio hit. Dancing Song, Adultery, Joanna and Darling Alistair are all as contagious as the flu. They’ll get you singing along and digging out your dancing shoes. Even Isles, with its gloomy state-of-the-nation lyrics ("the streets are bleak, the kids are running wild") will make your feet twitch with its clattering, broken percussion.
And then there’s the sonic subtlety at play here – on closer Intelligent Animals and the magnificent Her Black Eyes – that carries In Search of Elusive Little Comets to another plane altogether. One where the songwriting isn’t just a lark, isn’t just about making music for people to dance to at student discos; but where it is mature and dealing in weightier emotions.
There are times when Robert Coles’ vocal grates slightly – he seems to be on a mission to make it sound idiosyncratic, yelping through phrases and rendering them unintelligible. Little Comets are at their best when he reins this in and allows the melodies to work their magic unassisted. It is, after all, the lack of affectation that makes Little Comets such a joy to listen to.
But overall this is a shiny penny of a debut, and it would be a terrible shame if Columbia’s mishandling of this band resulted in it being forgotten.