Comet Gain

Howl of the Lonely Crowd

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After almost 20 years of being a band, you might expect Comet Gain to sound tired or even played out on Howl of the Lonely Crowd, their sixth full-length. You’d be wrong. The band, and especially David Feck, the one constant member from the start, still operate with fire in their eyes and a burning passion in their souls. To that end, Howl sounds like it could have been recorded and released by the band long ago. It has all the energy and drive of a record made early in a band’s career, giving no quarter to age or the eroding nature of time. With production by Edwyn Collins and Ryan Jarman (of the Cribs), the album has a lively sound that’s loose and ragged around the edges, but with a tough inner core that hits hard. The guitars are all feedback and clang, the drums sound like trash bins, the organs whine and hum, and the vocals distort with a seething violence. And that’s just on the ballads! Under Feck’s guidance, that’s to be expected. He’s always cared less about the quality of the sound and more about its overall impact. The production team has fully embraced that notion, and together they’ve made the group’s best-sounding record since their debut. A little cleaner than usual and with a little more variance between the charging, lo-fi rockers and the semi-sweetened ballads. And while the band gets more notice for the noise they make, Feck has always been able to break a heart with a phrase on the quieter songs and he delivers some strong examples on Howl. “After Midnight, It’s All Gone Wrong” will bring tears to even the most hardened hearts, “She Had Daydreams” is a melancholy wonder, and “A Memorial for Nobody I Know” takes a page out of the Clientele's playbook and trumps them. Along with those instant classics, many of the songs on Howl would fit snugly on the greatest-hits compilation that will never be; “Clang of the Concrete Swans,” with its epic nature and urgently delivered lyrics, the ripped and torn “Yoona Baines,” and the breathtaking “The Weekend Dreams” all stand with Comet Gain’s best. The rest of the album builds to a fever pitch and everyone involved (especially vocalist Rachel Evans) turns in the kind of intense and impressive performances that only a band at the absolute top of their game can. It's amazing that they can still pull it off after so long, and amazing that they can make it sound even more vital and insistent than ever. Howl of the Lonely Crowd will get some notice due to the people who produced it, as it should, but at its core it’s further proof that Comet Gain is one of the great hidden rock & roll treasures of the last 20 years.

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