Country – Failure (2014)

You have to give credit to Canadian sleaze bags Country, they’ve made an album so filthy it would make Iggy Pop retch behind a bus shelter.

Country Failure

The main influence of Failure is 80s electronica but with a sleazy, squelchy synth sound. This is a realm of the debased and the grotesque. There is the style of Roxy, the sex of Bowie, the dirt of The Stooges, the hedonism of rave, the mixing of dance and guitars of New Order. From contemporary bands I can draw parallels with the dance / soundtrack music of Plank.

There is a wider aesthetic at work here, from the garish art work to the provocative song titles, Country have a punkish edge of art, discord and agitation. Country may pilfer from the 80s but feel resolutely like a product of the 2010’s, an age of sensory overload and decay. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

‘Africa, What Are You Doing With The Bottled Water?’ starts the album with John Carpenter electronics with an overload sheen of neon keyboard action. Perfect for a car chase through the twilight of a LA. Progressing through the song, a screaming guitar and hysterical vocals take the song to fever pitch. This is what an opening track should be, a steely grasp around your throat and a slap across the face. Breathless, insistent and urgent.

Click to listen to ‘Africa, What Are You Doing With The Bottled Water?’

‘Life-Like’ careers like a New Order album track gone off the rails. Painting a picture of a visceral night-time motorway cruise like an amped up version of motorik. The guitar is a concrete underpass and the white lines are whizzing past you…

‘Rip You Off Right’ has a riff reminiscent of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ with neurotic electronics so highly strung you wonder if they will make it to the end of the song. This is a jolting, enervating smash of punk and electro.

Click to listen to ‘Rip You Off Right’

‘Closer To God’ is a slower, moodier piece, highly reminiscent of the soundtrack from the movie Drive. Past 3 minutes and the guitar practically burns your ears off as the song reaches a ringing, euphoria and the vocals drone out a dolorous, washed out air of defeat.

‘The Keys, The Mink’ continues the Drive allusions with police sirens giving way to ominous tones and breathy vocals. In the background the electronics recall New Order’s ‘Elegia’. A nocturnal beauty.

If the previous track was ‘Elegia’ then ‘Candy’ is ‘Confusion’. This song is pure 80s dance from the drum machines to the synth washes and depressed post punk vocals. In fact, this song should have been would have gone down a treat in The Hacienda.

‘Clip My Wings’ is a pure joy ride of adrenaline and sweat. Huge, epic drums fill the landscape, topped with scratchy, funky guitars spiralling into dizzying sky-kissing spires of noise. Imagine a rave in Blade Runner and you’re halfway there…

The album exists in a continual state of panic, the production is tight yet the music often seems to be operating at the edge of chaos.

As cinematic as its devotion to dark dance grooves this is a volatile mix of noxious rhythms and brooding atmospherics. The whole album is bathed in the neon glow of LA. Failure is cruising it’s dirty, vice ridden streets. Placing you in the centre of the action as either hero or villain here is your chance to play out all your leather jacketed fantasies. A killer, thriller of album.

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