'The Heart Is A Monster' - Failure's Successful Comeback
Since splitting in 1997, alt space-rockers Failure went their separate ways, leaving fans with only the legacy of their crucial third EP, ‘Fantastic Planet’. That was the case until last year, when Greg Edwards, Ken Andrews and Kelli Scott reunited for a show in Los Angeles.
There is always the risk that a reunion, especially following such a long period of time, can be disastrous. Failure, however, have come together in 2015 to stand in a very different place; their fourth album, ‘The Heart is a Monster’, is everything ‘Fantastic Planet’ was, and more.
Yet, long periods of time are something that Failure does well as a band; following in the footsteps of ‘Fantastic Planet’, ‘The Heart is a Monster’ is a lengthy album, coming in at over an hour. As an even more explicit nod to their past, Failure’s latest record opens with the track “Segue 4”.
The first three Segues played a role in ‘Fantastic Planet’, breaking up the record with short spaced-out instrumentals. On their latest record, however, Segues 4-9 play an even more important part. Whilst the first five Segues follow their predecessors - coming in at the 1-2 minute mark, “Segue 9”, the album’s closer, is a track in its own right at over four minutes long.
The blueprint of ‘The Heart is a Monster’ looks as if it’s merely a replication of Failure’s 1996 success. Though as “Segue 4” builds itself up with its mechanical galactic atmosphere, before transitioning flawlessly into “Hot Traveler”, it is clear that, in the year 2015, Failure have more to offer than just a continuation from where they left off.
“Hot Traveler” introduces this new and improved Failure well; it’s a clear indicator that Edwards, Andrews and Scott have retained what collectively made them Failure in the 1990s, whilst also demonstrating the refinement that has come with their separate endeavors during the 17-year hiatus. The distorted guitar riff in “Atom City Queen” is a particularly infectious point in the album, before Failure take on dreamlike ambience with “Segue 5”.
The opening of “Counterfeit Sky” screeches out infectiously and with such a tightness that epitomises precisely where Failure stand as a band on this record. This is reiterated and reinforced with a re-recording of “Petting the Carpet”, an outtake from their 1992 debut album ‘Comfort’.
The way in which ‘The Heart is a Monster’ is curated, as a space-infused trek from “Segue 4” through to “Segue 9”, makes “Mulholland Dr.” an odd addition to the album. More of a psychedelic ballad, it’s a track that’s unforgivingly stuck too far in the 90s in a way that the rest of ‘The Heart is a Monster’ is not.
Onwards and upwards - from “Segue 6” on, ‘The Heart is a Monster’ slinks into darker unknown territory. “The Focus” is a poisonous punch amongst the ambience of the latter half of the album’s Segues. “I Can See Houses” is a six and a half minute track induced with fuzz and an experimental mechanical tinge to it, yet it is somewhat overshadowed by the final Segue.
In its entirety, ‘The Heart is a Monster’ puts Failure back on the map. As daunting as an 18 track, hour long album may seem in 2015, it’s by and large a successful contender for legacy of ‘Fantastic Planet’.
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Words by Ellie Brown.