Tyne-side four piece Little Comets have certainly had an arduous journey towards the release of In Search of…, which has finally come out on indie label Dirty Hit, after an acrimonious spilt with initial label Columbia in early 2010. Little Comets produce a familiar blend of upbeat indie pop, combined with graduate style introspective lyrics. They have an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to their influences, stating Debussy, Ella Fitzgerald and Roald Dahl amongst many other artists significant to their work.
Little Comets have regularly been likened to Vampire Weekend, but for me, upon listening to In Search of…, the group’s work seems much more similar to pop acts such as The Wombats. Their music is beyond upbeat, guitar laden, with typical indie-pop vocal delivery – staccato and punchy. This poppy, cheerful approach makes everything on the album initially seem a bit carefree and even facile. Underneath this album’s blithe exterior however, there are some genuinely interesting aspects to the music. The production of the whole album has a rough and loose feeling, which lends it a real and honest quality especially notable at the beginning and end of tracks. This is a really nice characteristic for the album to have, as even some of the quirkiest alternative recordings have production laid upon them, sounding over-produced and clinical. Additionally, the guitar parts are complex and enjoyable, and the singer has a good range with a lot of expressivity, often peaking in dynamics, sounding strained, passionate and authentic. There is also some interesting usage of samples and found sounds, synths and various percussion.
Within this album the upbeat tracks are better – it just feel more natural and comfortable for the group, and is clearly fun to play and enjoyable to listen to. With the more contemplative tracks however, success is varied – songs such as Her Black Eyes are delicate and interesting; others, like Isles have a melancholic, negative edge that after the upbeat jollity of previous tracks does leave a sour taste in the metaphorical mouth. Mostly though, this is an enjoyable album. The complexity of the group’s influences unfortunately has not yet been fully expressed, and I would certainly classify it under fusion pop and not alternative indie as some might suggest. In Search of… is not stupendously deep or innovative, but providing that’s not what Little Comets are aiming for, then this is a fine album full of enjoyable moments and good musicianship.