They managed to dodge the sophomore slump with the surprisingly stellar Night On Fire, which, while not as fantastically Daft (Punk-y) as its predecessor, Le Funk, nevertheless managed some magical shoegaze-by-way-of-the-dancefloor moments - "Alive" and "The Melting Moon" in particular. Which brings us to Bring on the Comets, the band's much-delayed third album that, somewhat worryingly, most often resembles a lost Bananarama or A-Ha album circa 1986. Here, the songs have been stripped of the ethereal varnish that provided Night On Fire its ghastly, chilling appeal, eschewed in favor of wheezing, clattering synth lines and vocals/guitars processed within an inch of their life.
Their decision to be more pop-minded isn't doing them any favors, because while "Love in My Pocket" and "Burn it all Down" are catchy enough, they also succeed in sounding exactly like a thousand other bands currently flogging the new-wave '80s for all they're worth. Elsewhere, "Fall Down Lightly" would have been toss-away fodder in the mid-'90s, but here it borders on embarrassing, echoing decade old alt-rock also-rans like Dishwalla and Semisonic without even the slightest tinge of irony, and "Take It or Leave It" fizzles out before it even gets to the first chorus, collapsing in upon itself like a dying star under a hail of mopey lyrics, gassed-out guitars and plodding rhythms.
Fortunately, the band pulls itself up by the bootstraps for Bring On The Comets' latter half. Beginning with the segue piece "Alpha Theta" and, the title-track re-ignites the spark they showed early on, its stately chorus, buoyed by swirling acoustic guitar lines carrying Pfunder's vocal into lovely, cosmic territory. The stardust sprinkled "We Could be One" finds them returning, somewhat, to their discofied funk-rock roots, with oil-slick guitars and Battlestar Galactica keyboards spinning in the foreground as they unleash a fierce rhythmic monster upon the dancefloor. Album closer "The Stars Where We Came From" is as close as the band come to replicating the interstellar poignancy of their past work, with a lilting piano melody wafting its way through a maze of reverb-and-tremolo washed guitars and some surprisingly tuneful crooning on Craig Pfunder's part.
Bring On The Comets isn't exactly the product of a band that peaked too soon, however, if they're looking for longevity, Pfunder and his troops desperately need to move out of the shadows of both their heroes (The Cure and Duran Duran) as well as their contemporaries (The Rapture and Franz Ferdinand) and forge their own distinct identity, else they become another mascara-smeared casualty of the steadily waning '80s revival. Still, as mindlessly enjoyable albums go, especially in the dance-rock realm, you could do a lot worse than Bring On The Comets.
"Can't Believe A Single Word"