Review Summary: A conservative yet fruitful sidestep.
It'd be interesting to know how Little Comets feel about their current situation. Now reasonably respected with a nationwide UK following, the Newcastle-based trio have nevertheless experienced their fair share of setbacks - an ill-fated stint on Columbia Records being chief among them. Upon signing the contract in 2008, their young imaginations must have been rife with promises of sales and exposure, so the fact the major label severed ties before they'd even got around to releasing a record must have come as a brutal kick in the nads. In the words of singer Rob Coles, they "just didn't sound enough like Ke$ha," but while the episode left a sour taste there was silver a silver lining in that it left the group with a measure of self-control they were otherwise deprived of.
That much was evident once In Search Of Elusive Little Comets
finally did surface. Brimming with effervescence and youthful exuberance, it was a debut which lent a vital shot in the arm to a floundering indie pop scene, boasting both intelligence and creativity atop some of the most addictive tunes the genre's produced in many a year. Although only a moderate success commercially, it was a record which granted its makers a degree of comfort, to the point they've chosen to stick rather than twist with regards to its follow-up. It hardly makes for a daring or adventurous return, but thankfully Life Is Elsewhere
offers just about enough to vindicate that stance. In essence, it's the sound of a band who're perfectly happy in its own skin, knowledgeable of its strengths and in all but complete control of its own destiny. There may be nothing here which matches the calibre of "Joanna" or "One Night In October," but these tracks still bubble with the same intrinsic hooks, pots 'n' pans percussion and excitable quirks behind past excellence - none of which show any signs of wearing thin.
The only real misgiving is the best tracks tend to be those we're already familiar with. "Worry" and "Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night" (both of which appeared on last year's EP bearing the formers name) for instance conduct themselves with a confidence and swagger which seems almost effortless, their chiming guitars and deal-clinching choruses perfectly in tune with fan's needs and desires. The flip side is "Violence Out Tonight," a song originally featured on May's Jennifer And Other Short Stories
EP which bears fleeting yet unmistakable signs of a will to progress. Sporting an uncharacteristically grim narrative concerning rape and deceit, it's a stark and welcome contrast to the record's otherwise perennially upbeat manner, and suggests they may in fact be withholding a wealth of hidden talents.
Life Is Elsewhere
is far from perfect. It does indeed house a handful of cuts you sense wouldn't have made it onto its predecessor, but whilst slightly inferior overall it's still a work of remarkable charm and delight. "Violence Out Tonight" aside, it reveals nothing we didn't already know about Little Comets, but as much as that could become an issue on future releases it remains, for now, a mere observation. What's most important is this young band have found a successful means to operate on their own terms, and although not life-changing the results are proving rather fruitful.