Comet Gain – Fireraisers Forever!
When we last heard from Comet Gain, the long-running London collective was in an introspective and sedate mood – relatively speaking. While 2015’s Paperback Ghosts had its fair share of raucous moments, ringleader David Christian foregrounded the gentler, somber tunes that previously lurked on the periphery.
The new Fireraisers Forever! flips the balance. The notion of political turmoil as fuel for great art gets overplayed, but it’s certainly gotten Comet Gain’s juices pumping anew. Naming one’s opening track “We’re All Fucking Morons” telegraphs a pretty clear statement of intent.
What’s the spark to Comet Gain’s kindling? Brexit (spoiler alert: they’re against it). “The present wants to make a memory of the future,” Christian laments on “Bad Night at the Mustache,” before launching into a list of recriminations and exhorting the faithful to “cauterize the wounds our stupidity has caused us.” For a band that recently marked 25 years of kicking against the pricks, this is hardly an unexpected turn.
Not that the crew is letting anyone off the hook, least of all those too complacent to fight for a cause. On the aforementioned opener, Rachel Evans quickly follows up the title’s “fucking morons” rejoinder by snarling “my finger’s pointing straight at you” in an imagined pub encounter with a Leaver. “I just want to understand you/ Before I go to war with you,” she acknowledges – magnanimity has its limits.
Artists aren’t often the best judges of their own work, but Comet Gain astutely points to 2002’s Kill Rock Stars screed Realistes (arguably their high water mark) as Fireraisers’ closest cousin. This one’s more organ drenched, but equally angry without sacrificing the heart that distinguishes the band’s entire catalog. More than ever, Comet Gain reminds me of equally ramshackle but more twee brothers/sisters of Thatcher-era Mekons, rallying the UK resistance for solace.
Christian – who updated his surname from Feck a couple of LPs ago, with little explanation – writes the songs and reserves most vocal leads for himself. Perhaps owing to that portion control, the Evans cameos tend to stand out. One such example is the poppier “Mid 8Ts,” whose infectious “You belong here” chorus invokes a “Gabba Gabba we accept you” level anthem of inclusion. Comet Gain has always stood proudly with the misfits and outsiders.
Elsewhere, Christian deftly balances the gentle and raw-nerved on “Your Life on Your Knees” and delivers a wonderful early Belle and Sebastian pastiche on “Society of Inner Nothing.” Ultimately, Fireraisers Forever! plays out as equal parts call to arms and plea for community – and damn compelling ones at that.