Over the course of a long career that saw them weathering numerous lineup changes, multiple record labels, and shifting cultural tides, one thing has remained constant for the London band Comet Gain. No matter if it was one of their early records like 1995's Casino Classics — which combined '60s-inspired rave-ups with sweet indie pop ballads — the rambunctious and punk-inspired Realistes from 2002, or 2014's softly autumnal Paperback Ghosts, listeners could always count on the band for two things: Lyrics that cut to the quick whether they were personal or political, and a sound that was shorn of artifice while never skimping on melody. 2019's Fireraisers Forever! was made 27 years after they formed, and is just as inspired, angry, and devoted to pop as their early recordings.
The first edition of the group was formed in 1992 by Feck, bassist George Wright, and drummer Phil Sutton. Wright was soon replaced by Jax Coombes, and singer Sarah Bleach and guitarist Sam Pluck came onboard. This lineup developed the band's initial punk mod sound and recorded their debut album, 1995's Casino Classics, which was released by the influential label Wiija. In 1997, Wiija issued Comet Gain's second album under the title Magnetic Poetry; it came out in the United States on Beggars Banquet in expanded form as Sneaky. However, months after their sophomore album arrived in stores, Feck and the rest of the band split over musical differences. They formed Velocette and he assembled a new version of Comet Gain from scratch, featuring Rachel Evans on vocals, M.J. "Woodie" Taylor on drums, and former Huggy Bear member Jon Slade on guitar and bass. The new version of Comet Gain cut the raucous 1999 album Tigertown Pictures, which was released by Kill Rock Stars in America and Fortuna Pop in the U.K.
Evans, Taylor, and Slade proved to be a solid lineup, and with the addition of bassist Kay Ishikawa, the band released two more albums for Kill Rock Stars, 2002's Realistes (which featured a cameo from Kathleen Hanna) and 2005's City Fallen Leaves. In 2008 Feck assembled Broken Record Prayers, a 20-song compilation released by What's Yr Rupture?, which was drawn from the group's many single releases and compilation appearances.
Their sixth album, 2011's Howl of the Lonely Crowd, featured new keyboardist Anne Laure Guillain and found Comet Gain receiving some production assistance from one of their heroes, ex-Orange Juice leader Edwyn Collins. After that record, the band lost longtime members Ishikawa (in 2011) and Slade (in 2012), replacing them with guitarist Ben Phillipson and Clientele member James Hornsey on bass. The new band returned in 2013 with the "Avenue Girls" single before releasing their seventh album, the relatively quiet and autumnal Paperback Ghosts, in the early summer of 2014 on the Fortuna Pop label. Some of the tracks recorded during the Paperback Ghosts sessions that didn't quite fit that album's mood ended up on the Fingerprint Ritual EP in early 2015. After a break from recording, the band returned in late 2019 with the furious and heartbreaking Fireraisers Forever!, an album that combines Christian's politically charged lyrics with the band's inspired take on modern punk rock. Recorded by the Proper Ornaments' James Hoare in his living room and mixed by Taylor, it was their first release for the German label Tapete. ~ Mark Deming