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The Posies - Failure (2014) review

The Posies "Failure" (Omnivore Recordings, 1989/2014)

This is a reissue you have to listen to with perspective. You have to imagine that it’s 1988 and someone handed you a cassette of this album and told you it’s a debut by a couple of teenagers and that it was put together as home recordings. In that context, when you take in the exuberant melodic pop contained on the tape, you would likely think, “Wow! This is impressive. These guys are gonna be great. I’ll keep an eye out for anything else they do.” For the most part, Failure is more a statement of intent than a collection of fully realized songs, more spirited effort than practiced craftsmanship. There’s a couple songs on it that actually are ready-to-go instant classics, most notably “At Least For Now” which sounds like the best track left off your favorite Hollies collection. And while some of the other selections never quite get to the place they’re clearly headed in, that’s ok because it’s a first album by a couple of young guys and you know they’re going to find their way. Just five years later, The Posies released Frosting on the Beater which is, in the mind of this power pop but, one of the finest records ever made in that style.
           So Failure is one to listen to while thinking, “ok so this is where they started,” and, “man, they could write stuff that good when they were that young.” Oddly, or maybe tellingly, of the eight bonus tracks on this new edition of the album from Omnivore, some of the most enjoyable parts are the instrumental versions of a few of the songs; The Posies’ soaring vocal melodies are often so powerful as to make you not pay attention to the backing tracks, but those instrumentals remind you that they can really play.

Review made by Brian Greene/2014
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