Northeast indie trio’s second LP is most striking at its most atypical.
James Skinner 2012
“As his fingers strike her blouse / All the words that he espoused / Lie deftly scattered on the ground / Amidst the buttons he’s torn open.”
So sings Robert Coles at the halfway point of Little Comets’ second album, on the remarkable Violence Out Tonight. An unflinching, unsparing evocation of rape, it takes one instance of this most heinous crime as its narrative drive and goes on to express outrage at the “poor conviction rate … that can often leave a woman more at blame than able / To talk about violence tonight”.
Based around a slow, spidery riff that grows in stature as the song rumbles onward, it makes for an immediate highlight on Life Is Elsewhere. Coles’ voice is well suited to the gravitas its subject matter demands, bursts of backing vocals and odd guitar sounds accentuate the drama, while the percussion clatters and skips until it is all that remains.
Its chilling conclusion – that this kind of brutality remains widespread and oft-unpunished – finds this Tyne and Wear band at their very best, and is very much in keeping with the ‘kitchen sink’ tag they’ve attracted. It is, however, something of an anomaly – for the majority of Life Is Elsewhere, for better or worse, Little Comets tend to throw everything they have at their songs.
When it works, as on lead single A Little Opus, the almost surf rock Jennifer or the breathless, addictive Bayonne, Little Comets can be exhilarating. They’re a riot of clean, choppy guitars and confident melodies, touching on everything from The Smiths to Bloc Party, raising a glass to the wealth of influence lying in-between.
Yet it is also a little exhausting, something not helped by the bright production, Coles’ erratic delivery and the fact that all its most memorable choruses occur during its first half.
The band’s album-preceding EP, Jennifer and Other Short Stories, explored sparer styles over its course, and also featured Violence Out Tonight. It serves as a tacit reminder that Little Comets are at their most striking at their most atypical. Life Is Elsewhere, for all its strengths, suggests this is something the group itself hasn’t quite cottoned onto.