Scrappy British indie-pop outfit Comet Gain still sounds completely psyched to be making records, which can’t be said for many bands that have been around 19 years. That might have something to do with the man at the controls for Howl Of The Lonely Crowd: old indie hero Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice produced the band’s sixth album, and the joy is palpable. Comet Gain has become something like a ’90s-sired Mekons: a large, ever-shifting lineup centered on a couple of front-people (founder David Feck and, beginning in 1997, Rachel Evans), with no particular “sound,” just an abundance of sharply written songs that are both tongue-in-cheek and heart-on-sleeve.
“Remember all the songs that start with ‘I remember,’” Feck murmurs at the top of “A Memorial For Nobody I Know,” but these songs really are stirring. It’s hard not to hear the opening of “After Midnight, After It’s All Gone Wrong” without thinking of an old Eric Clapton Michelob ad, but what follows is doleful and moving, climaxing with Feck spinning out variations on the phrase “It’s just a memory-ache.” The warm violin scrapes and sprightly guitar figure that drive “An Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls” have a similarly memory-aching effect, but the song that lingers longest comes near the end: “Some Of Us Don’t Want To Be Saved,” an atheist’s hymn recommended to Christopher Hitchens. For Comet Gain, there’s too much life to be lived to worry about an afterlife.