Comet Gain combine raw, lo-fi power with a deeply felt, almost Spectorish knack for melodic pop hooks. Of course, their strong, raw, sweet songs are completed by vocals, both male and female, that are far too heartfelt and earnest to stay on key -- or even near
key, for that matter. Your enjoyment of City Fallen Leaves
may depend upon the degree to which Jon Slade's, David Feck's, and Rachel Evans's vocals appeal to you.
One of Comet Gain's two greatest strengths lies in convincing listeners, for a few minutes at least, that the great punk explosion of the late '70s, that oft-eulogized period in which everything and nothing at all seemed possible, never ended. When a blast like "Bored Roar" kicks in, you'll feel the same nihilistic glee and who-gives-a-fuck power that you'd get from an old Slits or Damned record. Set aside, for a moment, the fact that boredom is one of the most overused themes in the history of punk rock, and just listen: all of the elements are there. The flat, tuneless, yet evocative singing; the snarl of guitars so inexpertly recorded that you can't tell if there are two or twelve of them; the driving, midtempo inevitability; and then, an anthemic chorus moment that refuses to experience triumph of any kind. Even the squealing, grinding solo fits the period. That same attitude carries through tracks like the sinister, spoken-word "The Punk Got Fucked" and "Daydream Scars".
Comet Gain's other great strength is the unexpected wistfulness that emerges in "Days I Forgot To Write Down", "Fingernailed For You", and "Right Now? No". The strums and "La"s that highlight these songs don't so much sound like another aspect of the band that produced City Fallen Leaves's other angry songs; they're so different in tone, outlook, and approach as to sound like the work of an entirely different band.
When you buy the album (and you should), be sure to check out the final, untitled track. It's one of City's finest, a love letter to the concept of loving pop and rock music. It also sports some of main songwriter David Feck's finest lyrical work: "Change of rhythm / running back to the sea / Detour this to the heart of a dream... Amplified tears and rusty badges / Fingerprint photograph smudges / Our mixtapes are memories for unseen histories / What means the most to you, it means the most to me." The song is powerfully wistful, recalling Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation-era sound, but overlaying that impression with a sweet sadness. You're going to love it.