Published Jun 26, 2015Failure's 1996 space-rock masterpiece, Fantastic Planet, didn't receive considerable recognition at the time, but certainly has since. Meticulously self-produced in a house-turned-recording studio, the result sported an innovative sound with a palpable sense of the tinkering behind it. Layered, moody dissonance was balanced brilliantly by dynamic melody and rhythm. Failure had this complex combo down at a time when indefinable proved to be problematic, but the band's successful reunion shows last year prompted their return.
Rediscovering their old material while writing new songs, it isn't surprising they've borrowed heavily from their past. Their spacey sound is still intact — see the atmospheric "Otherwhere" or the heavenly weightiness of "A.M. Amnesia" — with familiar tonal and lyrical tendencies aplenty.
There are weaknesses: the tidy "Petting the Carpet" (originally from compilation album Golden in 2004) is stripped of the grit that made the original so sticky and thick, and "Mulholland Drive" isn't the heir to the intense "The Nurse Who Loved Me" the band wanted it to be. "Come Crashing," however, is better; conflicting warmth and impending doom, orchestral synths and booming bass swirl into transistor spurts as the floor of the song collapses, leaving the listener suspended in space.
The Heart is a Monster doesn't quite leave the impression mid-'90s Failure did, but despite less experimental approach and cleaner digital production, it's still a compelling listen. (INgrooves)