Comet Control – Inside the Sun Review

Time flies. One day you wake up, grab the next album in the review queue, and think to yourself, “These guys seem familiar.” Then you do some digging and realize you really loved their last album – five years ago. Center of the Maze, Canadian psych-rock outfit Comet Control’s second album, was a glistening example of psychedelia, stoner, and alt rock all mashed together. Featuring members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Biblical (another band worth checking out), and the now-defunct Quest for Fire, Comet Control proved back in 2016 that they have the musical and songwriting chops to craft a memorable album. Will their third release, Inside the Sun, strike the same chord?

Well, opening track “Keep on Spinning” strikes a lot of chords. Launching forth in hectic, chaotic fashion with a very 60’s-sounding melody, the song rushes headlong down cosmic pathways that dizzy the inner ear. Massive tape flange effects come out of nowhere – maybe a time or two too many – and psychedelic effects writhe through the speakers in an appropriately retro fashion. But the song is too long, and suffers from not one, not two, not three, but four false starts. I’m checked out after the second; it’s a bit too much of the same quirkiness. A better take on this chaotic buzz is “Secret Life,” essentially a four-minute reworking of the opener. Thankfully, these two songs single themselves out as the most annoying on Inside the Sun; Comet Control are capable of better, and they prove it several times here.

The hazy laid-back vocal style of Chad Ross works perfectly on songs like “Welcome to the Wave,” which has some super vocal harmonies and a hypnotic groove going on. Sandwiched in between the above two songs, it works great. And “Good Day to Say Goodbye” is a seven-minute ponderous swagger that reminds one of a more psychedelic version of Crippled Black Phoenix. It also features a killer guitar solo towards the end that must be heard. But the album highlight has to be the one-two punch of “Inside the Sun” and “The Afterlife.” The title track is a smooth and hypnotic interstellar journey, with dreamy vocals and plenty of, well, space for all to seek new frontiers. As it segues into “The Afterlife” it feels like we are floating in space, or having an out of body experience. It’s all delicate, beautiful atmosphere, although to its detriment the song also features a vocal melody perilously close to “Kokomo.”

Much like Center of the Maze, Comet Control end Inside the Sun with a melancholy track that could have been OK Computer-era Radiohead, except “The Deserter” isn’t quite as memorable as “Artificial Light” was. And that’s the problem with Inside the Sun as a whole; it just doesn’t quite stick like Center of the Maze did. Ross’s vocals are fantastic, the performances are admirable, and a handful of songs truly do resonate, but in its entirety the album doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor. And, though absolutely no fault of the band’s, the record label somehow in their infinite wisdom decided that 160kbps MP3’s are perfectly fine for us lowly reviewers. This makes it hard to tell what is deliberately lo-fi production and what is just a shitty bitrate. In this day and age, anything less than 320kbps is unforgivable.

Comet Control’s style and execution remain enthralling at times, but there are no leaps (or steps) forward in progression on Inside the Sun. After several weeks of listening, I find myself skipping half the album in favor of the strongest cuts mentioned above. If only the entire album reached the same heights as “Inside the Sun/The Afterlife,” we would be talking about something special. As it stands, we’ll keep an eye out for the band’s next album with fingers crossed.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160kbps mp3
Label: Tee Pee Records
Websites: |
Release Worldwide: August 27, 2021

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