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Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers

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Artist: Comet Gain

Album: Broken Record Prayers

Label: What's Your Rupture?

Review date: Mar. 27, 2009


Comet Gain - "Love Without Lies" (Broken Record Prayers)


The crush of quotes in the liner notes of Comet Gain’s new singles/rarities compilation Broken Record Prayers reads entirely ‘90s, predating the studied minimalism of our Facebook profiles. The band compiled bon mots from their favorite writers and musicians with yearbook earnestness, the same frankness that led Comet Gain’s David Feck to sing “We found the sound of the underground and we felt so proud to be underground,” on “Ballad of a Mixtape.” It’s the language of zines, of un-ironic confessions that punk saves lives but fails to change the world.

There’s a weird circularity playing with Comet Gain’s re-emergence: the kids at the record store had never heard of them before their recent flurry of singles; the prior generation that ran college radio think of CG fondly, when they think of them at all. Comet Gain can’t help but seem a pre-internet band, one still from the era of zines and brick-and-mortar record stores, sharing your finds with your best friends and thinking yourselves the first to have discovered whoever. And now, yet again, with pretty much every record ever at anyone’s fingertips, with no one playing rock harboring the illusion that they’ve hit on something new, the sound of the underground reaches back to the Television Personalities or the Velvets or whoever first realized that pop and not-knowing-how-to-play-guitar-but-playing-loud-anyway made sense together – or, more importantly, that this sound works as a perfect vector for honesty.

On the songs compiled here (originally released between 1998 and 2008), Comet Gain sound almost exactly as they did on their first releases, with slightly more polished production and even better, catchier songwriting. Just as before, they blend snarly vocals and trebly-distorted guitars with a massive dose of twee, often evoking ‘60s-era pop, as on the Faces-esque cover of Deena Barnes’ “If You Ever Walk Out of My Life.” Perhaps because the songs were released over a long period of time and not written in one go, this is Comet Gain’s most consistent record. Nearly every song has an instantly memorable melody; even the disco-beat dance jam “Love Without Lies” has a kind of nursery rhyme quality.

The lyrics address themselves mostly to some “you,” and – despite the sunny sound – describe disillusionment with both love and the revolutionary notions they once hoped their music could propagate. “I thought I could change the world this way,” Feck sings on “Beautiful Despair,” a refrain that appears throughout the album. “Brother On the Block” mocks bourgy kids who want to radicalize the masses; other songs detail love’s intricacies and failings with eloquent, often cinematic images. The mostly spoken tracks that open and close the record, “Jack Nance Hair” and “Record Players,” end with the same refrains: that we have either "no ideals" or "torn ideals,” and with the (sarcastic? earnest?) imperative to “go home and listen to your crackly 45s in their stained sleeves” all night.

Comet Gain are an apt band for these troubled times. They couch resentment, disappointment and a deep pain at finding their ideals fraying as they age, all in undeniable pop songs with arpeggiated guitar leads, handclaps and Rachel Evans’ sweet, soft voice. Broken Record Prayers is a tattered testament to life before cynicism, like a used book with someone else’s ink beneath the most salient quotes.

By Talya Cooper

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