Sound — 9
Failure are an alternative rock band from Los Angeles, CA who also have elements of alternative metal, noise and space rock. If you've heard Failure before you will have a good idea what you are install for with "Magnified". This album (their second) is a vast improvement on "Comfort" with regards to both production and songwriting, however it isn't so different that you wouldn't recognise their unique sound. "Magnified" continues on with their own unique alternative rock sound but has perhaps removed some of the more dissonant elements which are found on "Comfort". However do not let that dissuade you from this album. This definitely a solid album and a worthy successor. For those less familiar with Failure it is honestly difficult to put into words as to how they sound or any bands that they could be compared to. This album has a big sound. The bass, drums and guitar are very in your face and are all very prominent. Overall however the songs are just great alternative rock songs. They all have great hooks, great lead parts, great chord progressions. It's really difficult to find anything really negative to say about the sound on this album. The song "Frogs" starts with a heavy bass line drenched in guitar feedback before the drums come crashing in. "Frogs" then fades out into the acoustic intro to "Bernie" which turns into a pleasant lead riff and then very wet, spacey chords using a phase shifter. "Magnified" then follows with a heavy bass riff with lead opening and fast palm muted guitars. "Magnified" has a varied enough sound to keep it interesting and with great songwriting to produce a really satisfying listen. "Failure" also have a sort of interesting history. This was their second album and the first to have a video made for it - "Undone". The band were actually well received and praised by both critics and other bands alike (especially this album for its "sonic and musical advances"). The band supported Tool during one of their tours during the mid 90s - In fact, Failure's guitar "Troy Van Leeuwen" would go on to play with Maynard Keenan from Tool in A Perfect Circle and they would cover one of Failure's songs "The Nurse Who Loved Me" from Failure's last album "Fantastic Planet". Unfortunately however the band received very little airtime and split up due to personal differences. Failure are one of those bands that deserved to make it big but did not. They have however left a definite mark on the American underground and on alternative rock.
Lyrics — 10
I'm really no expert on singing, however Ken Edwards the lead singers voice really compliments the songs well. The lyrics as well are not something that I really pay a lot of attention to however they seem to have a very Kurt Cobain feel to them in that they may not make sense. For example from "Bernie": "Blowing fire through The hillside Pelting wings stuck To quicklime Smashing nobody's Headlights Nothing tells us We're alive" However there is also a use of irony in some of the lyrics as seen in "Wonderful Life": "It's not about the boy found slain It ain't about his lips blood drained You should've seen his dreams dissolve Into the dumpster behind the mall" Most of Failure's lyrics on this album and indeed their other albums seem to be written from the point of view of a character who is used to promote a certain idea or describe a certain situation. The lyrics below are from "Frogs" and perhaps may be about medical testing, dissection or mental illness but is portrayed through the characters description. "Didn't it seem kind of silly The way the doctor's carried on so Now that I've become a monster to them Have to keep their fear turned on all night long"
Overall Impression — 10
Overall this is a solid album and an improvement over their previous album, though perhaps with a slightly different sound but nothing that isn't too unfamiliar. All the songs on the album are great but I find myself listening to "Moths", "Empty Friend", "Magnified", "Wonderful Life", "Bernie" and "Frogs" the most. I would say that this album is more similar to their following album "Fantastic Planet" than their first album "Comfort". This was actually the first album that I heard by Failure so it is definitely a good place to start if you want to get into listening something new. I'd recommend "Bernie" for the first listen. This album for me honestly was a grower. When I first listened to it I had a few tracks that I liked, but not the whole album. Now I would say I enjoy all the tracks on the album and could easily play it from start to finish without skipping any tracks.