Little Comets - Hope Is Just A State Of Mind
by Hannah Strode
I love Little Comets for so many reasons. They stand for all the excellent independent musicianship that I find so important, they write a blog about their creative process so that the listener can actually engage with their lyrics and music fully, and they put on amazing live shows with pots and pans strung over the stage for use as percussion, and lyrics scrawled all over their instruments. They write enjoyable songs about political and social issues, and they’re also extremely nostalgic for me, as I discovered them during Sixth Form and went to several of their gigs in the tiny Norwich Arts Centre back home (which is one of my favourite venues ever). It must be obvious that I couldn’t wait for Hope Is Just a State Of Mind to come out, and I pre-ordered the vinyl ages ago. While a few tracks are a bit of the same old sound, there are some absolute stunners on this album that definitely make it worth listening to.
I’ve heard so much about this album from their email updates (yes, they sent out email updates - they’re the best) that it seems quite odd to be actually listening to it at this point. I know that they recorded it themselves (mostly in their garage and kitchen from what I can tell), and that they did all the sound mixing themselves. I’ll know details about the lyrics and style of each song when they release them on their blog (which they have done for both their previous albums). Having such a close relationship with their fans might not be possible for most bands, but it’s so special and really makes me appreciate them all the more.
All this greatness is reflected in the album, and it’s a good offering from the band. It’s got a very familiar Little Comets sound, and throughout the first half I was perhaps a little disappointed that they hadn’t tried to push their boundaries a bit more. But luckily, once I was finished listening straight through, I was enamoured, and haven’t stopped listening to it since.
The opening of the album is a beautiful, empty lyric at the start of My Boy William, and it is so wonderfully parallel to the closing slowness of The Blur, The Line & The Thickest Of Onions that it frames the whole experience so well. I really liked that they included some references to their new roles as parents in these new songs (two out of three of the band had babies a year or so ago). Plus, I cannot deny that I have adored soundbites of speech in songs since the piece of speech used in Intelligent Animals (from their first album), so the fact that they included a snippet of their children playing together was lovely, and blended so hauntingly into the song. While I did get a little frustrated when I saw that another track is called Formula, half expecting a diatribe about breastfeeding or similar, I calmed down when I realised that it is a lovely little song about their starting out as a band, and not about baby bottles (phew).
Unfortunately, some parts of the album did feel very familiar, and no amazing departure from what they have put out before, but I really feel like the standout tracks make up for this, and more. The tracks in my picks are so gorgeous, and so refreshing from a band who undoubtedly have a very distinctive sound. Effetism is the prettiest song from this genre that I’ve heard in a long time, with the guitar riff dancing across the playful lyrics. Fundamental Things is chunky and brash, bringing back the simplistic relatability that I find so charming about them as a band. I really, really want to see Don’t Fool Yourself live (they are amazing and so emotionally charged live, which will suit this song really well), and The Blur, The Line & The Thickest Of Onions is beautiful and painfully poignant, with a social and political message which is where they truly shine (and which made me immediately play it again after first listen… and then again).
I’ve heard both Little Italy and Salt from previous EPs, and while they’re both good, they don’t startle me as amazing pieces of excellent musicianship. There is never an album with 100% fantastic tracks, but I think the batting average could be a tiny bit higher for these guys - they’re no strangers to making music and have so much creative control over their process, so I want to hear the very, very best of what they can give at this point.
All in all, while I love this album, especially from Effetism onwards, I don’t think it’s their best album, and if you’re new to them as a band, I think you should go and listen to their debut, In Search Of Elusive Little Comets, before you come anywhere near this. Once you’re hooked on them as a band you’ll enjoy this album immensely, but I worry that if this is someone’s initial Little Comets experience they may be slightly underwhelmed. Having said that, I wholeheartedly support them and what they stand for musically, and I will be listening to this for a long time to come. Some of the tracks are not their best, but they make up for it with the blinding beauty of my picks. Go discover how lovely they are, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy.