Album review: Failure’s ‘The Heart Is a Monster’

Annie Zaleski

Four stars

Failure The Heart Is a Monster

In the years after the band’s 1997 breakup, Failure’s grungy, eerie space-rock became a sonic inspiration to bands such as Paramore, Speedy Ortiz and Cave In. The stellar The Heart Is a Monster, Failure’s first full-length since reuniting last year, underscores why the LA trio’s music endured then and continues to galvanize today. The record’s dense, challenging compositions never take an obvious route, winding through glinting metal, expansive post-rock and discordant hard rock. Highlights include the shuddering, stoner-sludge of “Atom City Queen;” the disorienting sonic manipulation and saw-toothed post-punk riffs of “Counterfeit Sky;” and the ambient-punk fury of “Fair Light Era.” Yet Monster also has immaculate pacing, a by-product of the band’s penchant for cinematic gravitas. Starry-eyed, piano-and-harmony-driven highlight “Mulholland Dr.” and instrumental moments such as the synth-trembled “Segue 6” swell with poignant drama. Failure’s second act is an unqualified creative success.

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