The Failures’ Union- You Know Who
Art of the Underground
1. 5,000 Pieces
2. Linear Park
3. Fan Club
4. Defection or Suicide?
5. I Feel the Same Songs About Her
6. You’re the Coyote
8. A Layer of Cotton
My favorite aspect of the indie genre is that it almost always produces the most refreshing artists. Any other music style can start to become too similar or overdone, but the beauty of indie is that it is not so much a particular sound rather than a term used to describe artists that are out there doing their own thing, because they feel strongly about music. Listening to The Failures’ Union was like a breath of fresh air in the form of sound waves. Short enough to be swallowed in one gulp, and versatile enough to appeal to a large crowd, You Know Who, is an excellent collection of splendid indie tunes. An accurately self proclaimed, “mid 90's influenced indie rock band,” the three piece features ex members of bands like Copper (Equal Vision), Swingset Hands, Girlfriend’s Kill, and Kite Eating Tree, which makes their band name quite appropriate.
Having the experience of all their former efforts has clearly benefitted the band in the way of musical talent, and it feels like with this band they have finally found the right project. Every song has its own feel, never feeling repetitious or too drawn out, something that few bands seem to accomplish these days, and a trait that I as a listener appreciate enormously.
The album kicks into drive immediately with “5,000 Pieces,” an interesting track that portrays one end of the spectrum as far as their sound goes. The verses are done in a fast paced yelling style that at first threw me off and had me misreading their intentions, but as soon as the chorus comes into play, the band’s gift for melody reveals itself to be crystal clear. The song cleverly utilizes the metaphor of a puzzle to describe a shattering relationship. Taking the energy down one notch the record moves into “Linear Park,” my personal favorite track. This is a seriously beautiful and emotional song which achieves its message through sweetly simplistic lyrics like, “I can’t wait for jacket weather/To see you wear that jacket one more time.” Sure it sounds like anyone could jot down similar words, but the music is so sincere and the vocals so raw that the lack of complexity works just fine.
The next song “Fan Club,” clocks in at a mere 1:23 but serves it’s purpose. As a huge fan of Gatsby’s American Dream, I place a lot of value in a band that knows when a song only has to be so long. Like the old saying, quality over quantity, it is about the effectiveness of the song rather than the length, another aspect of The Failures’ Union that adds to the “refreshment factor.” The song fades out with a random acoustic fill moving into “Defection or Suicide?” A mid-tempo moody jam, the song maintains the honesty and somber emotion, over bouncy drums, and a generally upbeat guitar riff. “I Feel the Same Songs About Her,” has an excellent poetic narrative sound with rolling drums and really moving acoustic guitar work. The fading symbols here send chills down my spine, and once again the song ends just in time, leaving you impacted but not bored.
“You’re the Coyote,” begins with more veraciously entrancing lyrics, “I’ve fallen for every girl I’ve seen since 1993/You weren’t the first to make the rest seem like your scenery/Get down to the bar my dear/They can steal your time down there/I’ve learned to call for you at night with whispers through the sheet/You moved from field and stream to lot and street to find the sheep.” This band truly has a way with words unlike anything I’ve listened to recently... refreshing is now an understatement. Track 7, titled “Planes,” has but 10 words, yet stays interesting with arrestingly melodic acoustic guitar and even some synthesizer thrown into the mix and ends with tenebrous male/female vocals that are at once spooky and lovely, accentuated by the shrill ringing of a telephone; an excellent track altogether. “A Layer of Cotton,” is a worthy closing track and while most of the songs’ lyrics need to be appreciated as a whole, this song contains one of the most memorable single lines, “I dreamt you in my headphones/And nothing much at all.” There is some static, and then what sounds like a voicemail message (the telephone seems to be a constant theme on this record, even in the artwork), which leads to a bonus acoustic number; a very nice song with extremely impressive harmonies, ending with some clapping and the singing of the album’s name, You Know Who.
As a reviewer when you receive a CD you hope for the best but expect the worst. In this case, I was very impressed by the quality of the music. We’re talking about a package that is unique, never gets boring, possesses true musicianship and honest emotion, and one that will cleanse your ears of the generic or played out. Please give this a listen, in fact, give it a few listens because this band has incredible potential. They have further informed me that this album was somewhat rushed and that their new material will be even more thought out. Well I for one will be counting down the days until that next release.