In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind by Failure
A long album title to match the busy year Failure's had, the rollout to In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind (I'm calling it LP5, fuck you) consisted of three EPs, each a chunk of the full record. While nice from the perspective of having three bite-sized Failure releases, none really satisfied for that reason, especially given that each had a fourth of their runtime dedicated to the obligatory segue tracks (give it a rest, guys). Nevertheless, they showed Failure doing what they do best: paranoia and made-over fuzz-rock excursions. The full thing's out, and it's damn good—but I have reservations.
Thanks to the length of the album, and that this might be my last album review for a very long time, I'm breaking formula and talking about things at length. My old reviews are linked, but they're not representative of my opinions on the material now. There's a lot of highlights to go over, so if your eyes glaze at more than two paragraphs worth of shit to read, skip to the last one and never darken my door again.
While layers and detailed production defined Fantastic Planet, it was still a fairly organic-sounding record with a bit of a home-recorded feel to it. Modern Failure, on the other hand, is as slick as black ice, no doubt thanks to Ken Andrews' tenure as a producer. The drums on this record are impeccable sounding. The attack of the bass is always well-defined, even at its fuzziest. All a bit of a turn-off at first, admittedly, but thankfully, it never crosses over into sounding overproduced. Failure knows how to create real detailed soundscapes (this is definitely a headphone album) and keep everything from feeling lifeless. Plus, the songcraft just plain works well with it.
In the Future promised great things from Failure right from the get go. "Dark Speed", the opener, is a definite step outside the Failure comfort zone, never quite exploding and never quite featuring a vocal melody either. A delicate balance of unease is kept throughout the runtime of the track, and depending on who you are, you'll either love it or get blue balls. Out of the first leg of the record, though, it's still "Pennies" that shines the brightest. Reworked from a scratchy Fantastic Planet outtake, the new arrangement, harmonies, and keys take the rough acoustic cut to Essential status.
I was not exactly kind to Your Body Will Be on release, but there's definitely more going on than I gave it credit for. "No One Left" features Greg Edwards' tenor wonderfully in tandem with Ken's gravel, and "Solar Eyes" isn't just the "Hot Traveler" retread I had it pegged for—no, this one's better. Jet powered, rumbling, laser-cut, lyrically excellent, and with a hell of a chorus, I'm surprised this one didn't get the video instead. Once again, the acoustic cut is the highlight of the show. "Tell yourself what makes it easy, then go away for now" is the kind of wound-licking that seemed to define the end of 2018 for me.
"Found a Way", starting off The Furthest Thing, is probably the perfect reference point to compare new and old Failure, as it's built from the same general parts as "Frogs" (from Magnified) but comes up with totally different results. "Distorted Fields" finds Failure falling into old grinds with new twists, and it was a highlight the moment I heard it. It's probably the noisiest they ever get across the entire length of the record, but still with a sheen that would fit fine on any playlist you file it in. Onto the ending—should be good, right?
In all honesty, the trumped-up themes of social media being our undoing from all the interviews really don't get addressed until "Another Post Human Dream", where not-so-subtly Ken bemoans being blessed with a voice with nothing to use it for. The theme crops up just as transparently in every song afterwards, culminating in the painfully obvious "disconnection is life" mantra on "Force Fed Rainbow". The rather plain references peppered throughout belies the comfort the group looks for; can't be that uneasy if you address it so plainly all the time. Not to mention—some of us have to live here, guys.
Lines like "scrape your insides out and keep a quiet, empty mind" ("Supertoys", from Autolux's Transit Transit) show that Greg is more than capable of artfully addressing alienation. The "we fucked ourselves" talk of "The Pineal Electorate" is irritatingly alarmist and forced, even if the piano instrumental is crushed satisfyingly underfoot in the stampeding bass of its climax. "Distorted Fields" makes for a better warning about the hollowness and fake niceness of social media than anything after it, and I don't even think it was intentional.
In conclusion, LP5 is a very long, very good record with a very surface-level ending. Failure seem a bit out of their league with the very plain, reductionist "social media is bad, guys" lines they try to weave in between the space talk. For comparison, the drugs of Fantastic Planet are never excused, merely explained. We're getting both the bad and the necessary of them throughout the album. Meanwhile, Failure's unease with social media never manifests in anything but "this is bad this is bad this is bad". How boomer of them.
It's still a fantastic record, through and through, and the vast majority of it is untouchable. Absolutely, listen to it. You will love it if you're even remotely into this kinda music. The ending could've been executed so much better, though, and given Failure's adept skill at adapting isolation into quality lyrics in the past, one has to wonder what happened.