Review: Failure’s Comeback Album ‘The Heart Is A Monster’

Eighteen years ago, an alternative space rock group released one of the most uniquely impactful cult classics. And in recent fortunate news, that band has reunited to reveal a much anticipated follow-up album. Failure’s The Heart Is A Monster will hit shelves on June 30th via INresidence. Multi-instrumentalist Greg Edwards stated, “Thematically we’ve moved from the outer space of Fantastic Planet to inner space. From the dislocation of one’s identity to the complete erasing of it by sleep and dreams. I think we’ve used instrumentation in the service of mood and emotion to an even greater degree than on Fantastic Planet.” You can read Alternative Nation’s review of Failure’s The Heart is a Monster below.

Alarms of melodic dissonance generate the atmosphere of “Segue 4”, a continued instrumental theme of Fantastic Planet. As the whirring synths finally align into cohesion along with bass and drums, the adhesive hooks of the single “Hot Traveler” soar amongst the voluntary harmonies. “A.M. Amnesia” launches a wall of sound, which delicately evolves into a series of noisy verses. To settle the guitar-heavy tones previously presented, “Snow Angel” offers a light touch with acoustical polyphonies. “Atom City Queen” presents the group’s abrasive nature with a highly-distorted guitar battling the grinding bass.

Calming strings of “Segue 5” transition to “Counterfeit Sky,” boasting a solid hook that gracefully skews the quirky, whimsical rhythms. Originally composed in 1992, the updated version of “Petting the Carpet” sounds light years more fresh and compelling with alluring vocals gently pulling you farther into the psychedelia. The trip winds down as Pink Floyd-esque piano work concocts the “Mulholland Dr.” dreamscape. Keeping you on your toes, “Fair Light Era” is a punchy shift to a more riff-centric world. After yet another segue, “Come Crashing,” formerly from the Tree of Stars EP, stack airy keyboard leads over a digestible song structure for a solid track.

The serenity contained within “Segue 7” is jolted back as “The Focus” delivers a hefty handful of hard rocking jabs. While perhaps not holding the most experimental or catchy qualities, “Otherwhere,” still serves as a significant cog in the eccentric clockwork. A resonance of sleep induction-like timbre is conveyed for “Segue 8”, setting the mood for the modestly rich tonalities of “I Can See Houses.” Some may claim an ambient instrumental as a closer track would drift towards the anti-climactic side of the spectrum, but “Segue 9” is a simply fitting conclusion to this modern day audio odyssey.

In the same vein that one does not simply glance at the stars without a passionate gaze of wonder and curiosity, one could not lend an ear to Failure’s musical compositions without being consumed in the galactic layers of melodious bliss. As is true with previous releases, this album is meant to be swallowed as a whole in order to fully become submerged within the dynamic cosmic setting. The Heart is a Monster is a reckoning force that achieves success as a comeback and a glorious landmark in the evolution in alternative and space rock. I dare anyone to not get lost in this album.

Overall score: 9 out of 10


You can click here to pre-order Failure’s The Heart is a Monster on iTunes

  • Chris Ross

    I think the last sentence of the review should be “I dare anyone to NOT get lost in this album”

  • — J —

    How the hell did you already hear this? Ugh! I have to wait 13 more goddamn days!

    • 209670938609387

      Reviewers have superpowers.

      Also: Alternative Nation. Failure’s style of music is kind of their thing. 😀

  • Thelonious Funk

    So is it on the same level as Fantastic Planet? Does it progress forward in terms of the sound of the band today? Or does it harken back to the more streamlined approach of Comfort and Magnified?

    “This modern day audio odyssey”…I’m going to hold you to this. Can’t remember being this excited to hear a new album by a band since the buildup to Koi No Yoken

    • Riley Rowe

      Personally, I think ‘Fantastic Planet’ is an untouchable album as lyrically, musically, and its overall sound hit the nail on the head. With that being said, I don’t exactly think this follow-up surpasses the previous record, but is the logical next step.

      In regards to progression, I think the most notable change is the production, which is shown in the songs released so far (“Hot Traveler,” “The Focus,” “Come Crashing,” “Mullholland Dr.”). Everything is a bit more clean, where a good amount of tracks on ‘Fantastic Planet’ had a raw aesthetic. To be perfectly honest, you can more or less get a good idea of what the album sounds like by those already released songs I previously mentioned. I think the most notable tracks within ‘The Heart is a Monster’ that has not yet been revealed are “A.M. Amnesia” and “Counterfeit Sky.” But also, like I said, this album should be listened to in its entirety because of the six different segues that tie it all together.

      • Thelonious Funk

        Just thankful it’s shaping up to be a worthy successor in their catalogue and not an embarrassment

  • FailureFan

    Just as Fantastic Planet was ahead of this time, I think this album is light years ahead of what everyone else is doing. Failure is always just 3 steps ahead of anyone else.

  • 209670938609387

    After listening to this last weekend, I’m calling for “more, more!” but I’ll have to settle for seeing them live and in person.

    I keep reading about the nod between Mulholland Dr. and David Lynch, but honestly, I feel that being pervasive across the album. Snow Angel, Atom City Queen, and I Can See Houses are of a similar vein, as Hot Traveler is the lead in for all of it. But I can also see A.M. Amnesia, Come Crashing, and The Focus being a nod to their past two albums in the same run.

    Perhaps some remixes of tracks would be a good holdover when the tour is through… not in the Skrillex/Deadmau5 EDM vein as stars are wont to do today, but more in the Industrial Rock direction (Is Danny Lohner busy lately? Or Billy Howerdel… last I heard he’s in limbo waiting for Tool to do something.)

  • Jesse M

    Apparently I’m the only person who thinks this sounds like buffer music to a Guitar Center drummer workshop.