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Failure: ‘Wild Type Droid’ Album Review

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The hard truth is, no matter how many albums we review each year, there are always countless releases that end up getting overlooked. This is why this month we bring back our No album left out
series, in which the Pastry The music team have the chance to return to their favorite underrated records from 2021 and sing their praises.

Meetings, as we all know, are a delicate business. Even though we may regret the return of our favorite bands, very few of them really regain their old sparks. When Failure returned with a new album in 2015, the LA trio had to follow through on nearly 20 years of legend that had built up around their 1996 swan song, Fantastic planet. A landmark work in many ways, Fantastic planet embodies the alt-rock / alt-metal tropes of the 90s alongside other canonical tracks characterized by a combination of big guitars, radio-friendly melodies and wash cymbal walls: Smashing Pumpkins’ siamese dream, Pilots of the Temple of Peter ‘ Mauve, Soundgarden Super unknown, Tools Aenima, Weezer’s debut, Helmets Betty etc.

Much like their peers, Failure was celebrated – by a modest but dedicated cult that included members of Interpol, Deftones, Tool, STP and other heavy aspects of their sound. At the heart of the band’s creation, multi-instrumentalists Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards were more closely tied to Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Cure than anyone else in the metal-tipped movement they were considered a part of. If anything, Failure represented some kind of warped recreation of ’90s psychedelia.

If, for example, the progression of Animal sounds at The wall was analogous to the jump of Willy wonka at Robert Altman 3 women, Failure’s sophomore effort in 1994 Enlarged parallel to the path Twin peaks lurking on the fringes of pop culture, luring audiences to rabbit holes in realms of unprecedented darkness. Above all, Edwards and Andrews have created a captivating atmosphere. Each brought a distinctive approach to both guitar and bass, and their hallmark was to weave dissonance and harmony together for a sinister, yet eerily beautiful effect.

Wild type droid, the third studio album from the second act of Failure, showcases this aspect perhaps more than anything the band has ever done. And if there were lingering doubts as to whether failure could still conjure up this one-of-a-kind magic as reliable as it once was, Wild type droid should allay those doubts once and for all. While true to the original essence of the band, the album also features more recent elements that reflect very well the moment we find ourselves in and, most importantly, express the prevailing unease about which direction we might take.

The song “Undecided,” for example, swaps the stacks of amp distortion and shattering drums of yesteryear with sparkling clean guitar lines, synth bass, a touch of twang, and drummer’s groove from the past. longtime Kellii Scott who manages to be funky and dark at the same time. By restraining his strength, Scott actually reveals a different kind of power in his game. And overall, the group forgoes the exhilaration and density of their classic material, favoring an aerial, almost astral approach that befits befitting. to all those hallucinatory images that have taken listeners on a journey since the 90s.

β€œUndecided,” in fact, opens with its protagonist mulling over a flight from Seoul, Korea to an undisclosed destination. If the resemblance to the opening scene of William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Mona Lisa Overdrive is purely coincidental, it’s hard to resist reading the author’s premonitory message in these lyrics, which were written in the context of a present that bears a great resemblance to the distant future Gibson described: “I must wake up / Make my way back to the moon, ”Andrews coo, his voice as velvety and singsong as it has ever been. “I have to go now / while the ocean is still blue…”

Fans, of course, will immediately recognize Edwards’ use of space as a metaphor for self-disconnection – the main theme of Fantastic planet, named after RenΓ© Laloux’s 1973 sci-fi animated film. In a new twist, however, Edwards points out in the new album’s press materials that it is time “to ditch spatial iconography In earnest, describing the new material as “a coming back to earth” at a time when “all spirits have been called to their bodies” because “there is a lot to be done right in front of us.” If Edwards (who also stars in Autolux) wants to make the point that Failure’s music has gone beyond what we might generally associate with the term β€œspace rock,” then that’s fine. You could almost think of the opening of the “Water With Hands” album as Failure’s response to the Gary Numan new wave, except that the song has too many modern elements to present it as a retro tribute.

Much like they were in the mid-90s, Failure is on to something that shows the way forward. This is precisely why, in the light of lyrics like “I kill the past / so that my body can stay”, we can also see Wild type droid like the apotheosis of a new type of space rock that Failure, more than anyone, is perfectly positioned to set in motion. As human society continues to blur the line between artificially hyped sensation and what it means to be alive – a premise that could only be understood as fiction when it appeared in Gibson’s work before the advent of cyberspace. , a term he coined – it becomes all the more so as we value the interior space that Edwards always tried to achieve in Failure’s music.

Either way, he and Andrews have retained both the weirdness and accessibility that distinguished their songwriting partnership from day one. Listeners who have found classic chess tunes like “Bernie” and “Frogs” irresistibly disturbing will be shocked at how gripping the experience of getting lost in the climactic section of a new song like “Headstand” can be. . Likewise, “Bad Translation” rivals the sprawling density of “Heliotropic” and “Daylight”, the punch that closes Fantastic planet on such an epic note.

All along, Wild type droid seeps in with such creative vitality that it allows listeners to imagine a world in which failure not only never went away, but also never lost its thirst for growth. That we continue to categorize their music as “space rock”, in itself the album requires that we stop seeing them as a ’90s act. As one could only hope for any band coming back from a rock. long absence, with Wild type droidFailure honors their legacy while cementing their place in the here and now.


Saby Reyes-Kulkarni is a long-time collaborator of Pastry. He wrote at length about the failure in the liner notes of the group’s 2020 box set. 1992-1996. You can read his work, listen to his interviews and playlists on feedbackdef.com, and find him on Twitter.

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