Failure

Comfort

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Failure was one of the '90's best-kept post-grunge secrets. The band's music was intensely melodic, stripped-down rock that probably struck many as a pallid form of faux Nirvana. On its surface, there is some truth to that assessment. There exists no punk immediacy in the noisy feedback strains that sometimes were at odds with the band's sullen pop, but Failure wisely abandoned many of the message-mixing sonic ornaments that diffuse this stunted debut. Released in 1992, Comfort was the Southern California band's first and weakest full-length effort. When measured against the talent of its creators, the word "failure," while shamefully predictable, is altogether appropriate. Still, the group received some decent notices, and each subsequent recording was met with much anticipation and praise. Band founders Ken Andrews (guitar, vocals) and Greg Edwards (bass) are joined on Comfort by one-time-only drummer Robert Gauss and indie producer extraordinaire Steve Albini. Albini's bombastic drum sound causes a bit of a problem on Comfort, as Andrews' subdued vocal delivery hardly stands up to the slap-back snare and excruciating cymbals. That super-sized snare drum worked for Nirvana, as Kurt Cobain had a righteous holler and a generally wider guitar and vocal dynamic. Andrews experiments with noisy guitar solos that also inhibit Failure's greatest asset, the group's incredible songwriting and melodicism. Too many repetitive and pointlessly angular tracks like "Kindred" fill Comfort, making it sound like one big abrasive and directionless coda. Fans mad about Magnified and the masterpiece Fantastic Planet should go ahead and check out Comfort just to know Failure's history, but these are perhaps the only listeners who will get any kind of thrill from this release.

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