Wrestled from the clutches of their former label Columbia Records, who refused to release it, apparently on the grounds that it didn't sound enough like Kesha, Newcastle four-piece Little Comets' debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets, has undeniably had a turbulent beginning. And while you certainly won't find any "Tik Tok"-style electro-R&B anthems here, its hard to see why record company executives didn't see the potential in its eclectic brand of indie pop, which often offers more invention in one three-minute track than the entire career output of the View, one of the few traditional alternative bands that has managed to remain on their roster. With Little Comets famed for their spontaneous gigs, which have seen them perform in universities, tube trains, and supermarket bakeries, In Search Of manages to recapture some of their ramshackle live spirit, with Rich Costey's organic indie-disco production allowing the band to showcase its melting pot of sounds. The tight guitar riffs, funky basslines, and dance rhythms of opening tracks "Adultery" and "One Night in October" echo the jittery angular math rock of Foals; the infectious singalong chorus and new wave post-punk leanings of "Joanna" wouldn't sound out of place on fellow North East guitar band the Futureheads' last album; and the lilting Afro-pop hooks, syncopated beats, and chanting melodies of the joyful "Dancing Party" evoke the "Upper West Side Soweto" of Vampire Weekend. But Little Comets are keen to prove that they're more than just the kind of band you'd find at a riotous Skins-style house party. "Her Black Eyes" is an atmospheric slice of spacy prog rock, full of haunting choral vocals, gentle percussion, and brooding double bass; the melancholic "Isles" is a bittersweet social commentary on contemporary Britain; and closing track "Intelligent Animals" is a Radiohead-esque sparsely produced eerie piano-led number, complete with spoken word interlude, based on the Darfur civil war. The playfully titled "Darling Alistair" and the spiky "Lost Time" are the kind of formulaic indie-landfill filler you'd expect from the Pigeon Detectives, while lead singer Robert Coles' constant whooping vocal tones can sometimes appear a little too obtrusive, particularly on the more downtempo moments. In Search of Elusive Little Comets isn't as genre-hopping as their cited influences of Debussy, Paul Simon, and Ella Fitzgerald might suggest, but it's a confident debut, bristling with energy, which should have Columbia kicking themselves for letting the band go.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien