Herb Heinz

Failure

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On Failure, one of Amy X Neuburg's men (and her most regular music partner), Herb Heinz, goes solo. An anti-pop record (or should it be pop anti-record) by all means, Failure comes accompanied by a statement that the artist wanted to fail: "My objective is to try to communicate the notion of trying to communicate and failing. And failing." Are you still there? In short, this album presents the reverse side of the mismatched relationships in Neuburg's songs -- the looser guy's point of view, the inanity of macho thinking. Heinz's music always has a tongue-in-cheek smell, but it gets particularly pungent here. His voice doesn't have the strength to sing lead -- great, it just makes a better failure. His songs draw equal parts from late-'70s prog rock ("Failure," "Beautiful Things") and the new wave pop of Anne Clark and Devo ("Not What I Wanted," "Fame"). The electronic drums (some performed by Men member Joel Davel) and keyboard tracks give the album an antiquated flavor that require persistence to get over, but Heinz's guitar work compensates. A skilled and inventive player, he should take the spotlight more often. The crude "Not What I Wanted" and the delicate title track define a large spectrum of emotions and moods for the artist to explore, but no matter what he chooses to do, it comes out strange -- sometimes downright demented. Definitely not your everyday record, this is good left-field pop despite the cold production.

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