If you took Black Francis‘s obsession with alien lifeforms, bottled it in gas form and pumped it through the keyhole of a recording studio where a local band was rehearsing, they would probably emerge, coughing and spluttering, in the guise of Ex Comets. And given the mind numbing blandness of most of today’s commercial successes, if there’s any justice in the world, this Leicester outfit are going to give the music industry a much needed kick in the goolies.
So I am delighted to report that with Life Is An Illusion, the band has lost none of its fiery spark, storming in with the urgent, raw driven guitar of the brilliant ‘Black Knight Satellite‘, which fizzes along and then explodes even further with the desperate plea to “Chase the signal! Chase the signal! Chase the signal!”, while ‘Written In The Wreckage‘ recalls ‘Ladykillers‘ era Lush with fervent aplomb.
‘PK Parties‘ is perhaps one of the best tracks of the year so far, with arguably the finest lyrics Jon Bennett has come up with yet, loosely referring to disinformation used in war and politics. Hence the lyrics “Let’s see how dumb the world is / vultures on a carcass“, and later “let’s see how warped the world is / hysterical and haunted“, over, as always, a deliciously invigorating, grittily appealing and wholly infectious melody.
Featuring three members of the Midlands city’s superb We Three And The Death Rattle, somehow the sound of Ex Comets is a different beast altogether, and this is showcased most clearly on Life Is An Illusion‘s final track, ‘Round Up The Rocketeers‘, guitars unusually starting on the ‘on’ beat and giving the feel of staring out of a bedroom window lashed with rain in late, dark November, but nowhere near as dispiriting as that scenario sounds. “We were raised up on rockets” sings the ever impressive Amy Cooper, adding that “we were carved out of comets” on a song whose constant guitar riffery adds a moody depth most other bands could never hope to reach even if you dressed them up as Nick Cave and made them watch Dancer In The Dark on constant loop.
“It’s a race at the speed of light“, apparently. Well if that’s the case, don’t even bother with the starting blocks, just give Ex Comets the gold medal right now.
The self released Life Is An Illusion EP is out now.