When a band has been around as long Comet Gain have -- over 25 years -- and keep making great records, it's easy to take them for granted. They have a foolproof plan for always getting the full attention of their listeners though: make the angry songs feel like the attack of a swarm of insane bees, make the pop songs pop like giant bubblegum bubbles, make the sad songs cry-a-bucket-of-tears sad. While their previous record Paperback Ghosts had an autumnal, almost pastoral, tinge on many of the tracks, the sound of Fireraisers Forever! is almost the opposite. This time David Christian and his devoted band take no prisoners. With immediate and raw production, lyrics that switch between anguish and tender hope, and performances that sound like they left the players bruised and bloody, this is a punk record at its core. A quick check of the title of the leadoff tracks lets the listener know where they stand; "We're All Fucking Morons" slams out of the gate on the heels of clanging guitars, a stomping garage rock beat, and Rachel Evans' impassioned vocals. Much of the album carries on the same way: "The Institute Debased" is a droning, fuzztone-driven rocker that pounds its point deep into the brain, "Werewolf Jacket" adds whining farfisa to the mix to bring some spooky vibes to the song, and "The Girl with the Melted Mind and Her Fear of the Open Door" has some impressive gnarly guitars and a pulse-quickening chorus.
The less rocked-out tracks aren't any less intense; unlike on Paperback Ghosts, there aren't many spaces to take a breath here. "Mid 8Ts" is the poppiest song on the record, with jangling guitars and sweet vocal harmonies, and it still romps like a mod anthem. The less jagged, more thoughtful tracks like "Society of Inner Nothing" and "Your Life on Your Knees" are still pretty tough lyrically. Christian never lets a nice melody knock him off his game, and every line connects like a punch -- sometimes in the gut like on the freewheeling "Victor Jara, Finally Found!," sometimes in the broken heart as on "The Godfrey Brothers," which tells the tragic tale of Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks, and does it complete with weeping pedal steel, ugly cry-inducing lyrics, and the kind of melody that either brother would have been proud to call his own. It's one of the band's best songs, and Fireraisers Forever! is one of their best albums in a long career full of them. Everything clicks into place right from the start and the emotion, the songcraft, and the power hooks never let up. Comet Gain may have been around a long, long time, but they have never felt as alive or as vital as they do on this amazing and important album.