This is a great record. ‘Strength’ is a little slice of girl-group/Motown-infused indie-pop that is a lot more proficient and ‘together’-sounding than pretty much anything else you might hear by Comet Gain. That might sound disparaging, but it’s not supposed to be – I really liked Comet Gain (or should that be ‘like’? – are they still going?). I first became aware of them in the early-to-mid ’90s after Huggy Bear/Cornershop/Blood Sausage and other bands, representing some of the UK support of the Riot Grrl scene, often mentioned something called Comet Gain on their sleeves, inserts, flyers and fanzines. I finally tracked down a seven inch bearing this name – which turned out to be that of a band – after some record shop searching. It wasn’t this record that I got – it was a much scrappier, wraparound sleeve/hand-pasted artwork job that I think may have been their first release. It was brilliant. Totally firing out exuberance, positivity and cool in a way that hinted at all kinds of not only indie-pop connections and parallels, but also 1960s cool, underground film-making, and a hard-to-define sense of ‘soul’.
Comet Gain played several years later – 2003, to be exact – at the annual music festival that I co-organise. They were particularly chaotic and shambolic (there was none of the Ronettes sheen of ‘Strength’ apparent during their set), but were fantastically good fun and – for me – a pleasure to see play live at last. As is so often the case with the festival, I was too much a combination of shy and busy to actually make much contact with the band and its members – and so who knows if they’re nice people or not. They seemed to be, though. I swear, if I’d been more outgoing and conversational during the 10+ years I’ve been running this festival, I’d have all kinds of cool friends to bang on about. Not that I don’t have cool friends already. But you know what I mean.
I was listening to an episode of the Sound Opinions podcast this afternoon, and during an interview with Peaches the discussion turned to how Riot Grrl, and its effects, had seemingly been completely forgotten about and overwhelmed by a whole new era of female objectification and dumb-ass pop singers with exceptionally questionable morals and or/values. (Okay, okay, they weren’t that bold in what they were saying, some of that is my own opinion). But isn’t it odd? Riot Grrl seemed to be so confidently final about making a change, but it seemed to fade away. A real shame. I hope we’re in for a similar bout of revolutionary change at some point soon – anything that debunks the idea (for example) of pole-dancing or getting hammered as a positive, empowering activity for independent modern women would have to be a good thing.