Prior to being given Failure‘s recently released The Heart Is A Monster, I had never actually heard of the space rock band. They were around in the early 90s to some success at the time, having released three albums at the height of the grunge era, but nothing I’ve ever heard. They went on a seventeen year hiatus before reforming and recording this new album to the pleasure of their fans.
Immediately I hear Failure‘s unique style in The Heart Is A Monster‘s opening segue. The album actually has six segues (simply titled Segue 4, Segue 5 and so on until Segue 9) that are scattered throughout the album. Most don’t go much over a minute, except for the closing segue, which is a four minute instrumental that closes off The Heart Is A Monster. I find these songs to all have the right effect to the album. It helps give it that artsy space feel.
As for the music, it took a few listens for me to properly appreciate the first half of The Heart Is A Monster. First listening to Hot Traveler, I thought of it as a very unique song and I thought of Failure as unique songwriters for having come up with it. Then as the album continued into songs like A.M. Amnesia, Snow Angel, Atom City Queen and Counterfeit Sky, I started to feel the songs started to sound too similar. They are all different songs, that’s for sure, but they all follow that same pace, very slow and dizzy sounding. Listening to them one after the other can be quite boring, but having listened to them all a few times as standalone songs makes me realize that the songs themselves aren’t quite so bad.
It isn’t until Petting the Carpet that I start to hear something special on The Heart Is A Monster. I finally start to hear some texture in Failure‘s sound that is something more than what they’ve had to show so far. Then comes the slow but ballad-ish Mulholland Drive which has a heart to it that no other song has that truly helps it stand out. Fair Light Era is the heaviest song on The Heart Is A Monster while Come Crashing follows that same slow pace of earlier songs from the album, but I find the chord progressions hook me into liking the song.
These four songs, which all come one after the other (with Segue 6 coming between Fair Light Are and Come Crashing) and I feel that’s not a good thing. The last three non segue songs, The Focus, Overwhere and I Can See Houses aren’t dissimilar to the first half of The Heart Is A Monster. The latter of the songs in particular, with its over six-minute time frame, drags on. Like the first half of the album I find the songs (except I Can See Houses) stand on their own well, but Failure should have spread out the album a bit better, rather than have all the different sounding tracks in the middle.
Maybe I just don’t get the space rock sound, though it’s not like this is the first time I’ve ever heard or enjoyed songs and albums of the sort, but Failure‘s The Heart Is A Monster could have been better. I think rearranging the tracks would have made a difference – not a humongous difference but a difference none the less – because besides that I feel there is some strong songwriting in the band that many must notice, they do have a large fan base, but good songwriting can only go so far with me. I like The Heart Is A Monster but that’s as far as it goes.
“Petting The Carpet” – To my understanding, this is a re-recording of an outtake from one of their previous albums. It’s the first moment on The Heart Is A Monster where I really started to feel the music and where their art rock meets space rock sound makes the most sense to me. It’s slow just like 98% of the album, but it’s got that special melody to it that makes it completely stand out.
7 (Out of 10)
|5.||“Atom City Queen”||3:57|
|8.||“Petting the Carpet”||4:49|
|10.||“Fair Light Era”||3:08|
|17.||“I Can See Houses”||6:33|