Formed in Sheffield at a similar time to U2 and Echo And The Bunnymen, somehow The Comsat Angels got left behind when the big prizes were handed out. Now at least they are afforded plenty of praise from critics and modern day artists alike. In Stephen Fellows they possessed a frontman lacking the arrogance of a Bono or a McCulloch and his voice was a serviceable rather than overpowering presence. Perhaps this was the reason why the Comsats only achieved a modicum of success; although the Benelux countries ensure they were appreciated abroad if not in their homeland. Statistics show that their highest UK chart placing was 71, for a remixed and inferior version of 'Independence Day'. This does their career a huge disservice for - unlike 'Crocodiles' or 'Boy' - their first record is a fully-formed debut of vintage alternative rock.
In fact 'Waiting For A Miracle' is more than a mere alternative rock album, it's just as much a new wave and pop record as it is a (more typical of the time) post-punk one. Initially, it's the rudimentary production which startles: the guitars, voice and rhythm section sound stark and arrive bereft of anything remotely glossy and epic in the background, whilst even Andy Peake's keyboard are often used to add tension rather than artistic flourishes. This approach only emphasises the loneliness and paranoia at the heart of the album, heard to best effect on the vulnerable 'Monkey Pilot'. A more dramatic technique is used on 'Real Story' and 'On The Beach' where the percussion crashes in to create searing slabs of wired angst. The rhythmic skills of Mik Glaisher and Kevin Bacon come to the surface again on the stunning intro to 'Baby'; it's a relatively simple song but its execution is perfect for building up the menacing atmosphere. To counter the general darkness of the record, opener 'Missing In Action' and 'Map Of The World' exhibit the overtly commercial potential to their early work; in a fairer world these would surely have been hits. Final song 'Postcard', though, is a grinding downer of a song which would lead seamlessly on to the follow-up record 'Sleep No More'. Although they can't on improve an almost perfect record, the additional tracks on this reissue enhance the story of the album's inception, with a series of demos and B-sides. Otherwise, bask in the dark splendour of this classic 1980 record.