Pretty big let down here. You might recall I reviewed the band’s first album a couple of months ago and liked their second disc over at an old place. So I was pretty pumped to round out the band’s catalog (prior to this year’s reunion/comeback album, at least) with what seems to be regarded as their high point. I can say unequivocally that it is no such thing.
Things are much cleaner this time around. The grungy crunch and rip is gone and in its place is a very smooth, traditional sound. Another feature of grunge that’s left behind is drop-tuning with, again, the band taking a more traditional approach to harmony this time around. But worst of all is the combination of a lack of really great songs and the fact that the band seems to have been on sleeping pills for most of the record.
In typical 90’s fashion, this album is a ridiculous 17 tracks long, but, to be fair, three are those are “Segue” tracks where they’ve recorded some bumper sounds and riffs and use them as transitions or, heck, segues, if you will. But still, 14 songs. And the best stuff is all back loaded in the last eight tracks (seven songs). So the last five songs end things really strong, and, despite their traditional tunings, the band is still really good at weaving in novel sounds at various layers to keep your interest.
But of the first five tracks, three are Meh, and the two Likes are not at all fantastic, to which I call false advertising on the album’s title. So I’m kind of bored and the bar’s been lowered by the time I hit the next three tracks, which all garner Likes, but, again, bar is lowered and all that. Even the Really Likes, “Pitiful,” “Heliotropic,” and “The Nurse Who Loved Me,” are more like strong in parts rather than something that grab my attention throughout.
The production isn’t helping. I mentioned the clean sound, but everything’s super compressed and thus lacking dynamic range, which only heightens the same-key same-tempo problem the band is prone to fall into.
The most frustrating thing about all of this is that, again, this is the Failure album that I see getting the most cred in the community. Which makes me wonder if nobody’s heard the other two superior albums or if everybody else is just plain wrong. Either way it’s proof that everybody should just give up and start listening to me since it’s plainly obvious that I’m right and literally everybody else is wrong.
Really Like: “Pitiful,” “The Nurse Who Loved Me,” “Heliotropic”
Like: “Saturday Saviour,” “Sergeant Politeness,” “Blank,” “Segue 2,” “Dirty Blue Balloons,” “Segue 3,” “Another Space Song,” “Stuck On You,” “Daylight”
Meh: “Segue 1,” “Smoking Umbrellas,” “Pillowhead,” “Solaris,” “Leo”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Saturday Saviour –
- Sergeant Politeness –
- Segue 1 –
- Smoking Umbrellas –
- Pillowhead –
- Blank – I think the lyrics of “I kinda like…” are like subliminal messages getting me to like it. Some creaky voice.
- Segue 2 – light synths, trains, cars
- Dirty Blue Balloons –
- Solaris –
- Pitiful –
- Leo – some good parts here but I hate the chorus
- Segue 3 –
- The Nurse Who Loved Me – “she’s got everything I need…pharmacy keys…some pills in a little cup”
- Another Space Song –
- Stuck On You –
- Heliotropic –
- Daylight – gets epic