Failure

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stewart Mason
The Posies' first release, originally self-released on cassette in early 1988 but reissued by the noted Seattle indie Popllama later that year, was a duo record by Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. As such, it's the most low-key of the group's original releases, with a rough, homemade charm that sounds all the more refreshing to those familiar with albums like the majestic, Hollies-like Dear 23 or the grungified Frosting on the Beater. The vaguely folky songs have echoes not only of Chris Bell's post-Big Star solo recordings, but the occasional hint of Jonathan Richman (especially on "Ironing Tuesdays") and even, dare it be said, Simon & Garfunkel. (From the beginning, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stewart Mason
The Posies' first release, originally self-released on cassette in early 1988 but reissued by the noted Seattle indie Popllama later that year, was a duo record by Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. As such, it's the most low-key of the group's original releases, with a rough, homemade charm that sounds all the more refreshing to those familiar with albums like the majestic, Hollies-like Dear 23 or the grungified Frosting on the Beater. The vaguely folky songs have echoes not only of Chris Bell's post-Big Star solo recordings, but the occasional hint of Jonathan Richman (especially on "Ironing Tuesdays") and even, dare it be said, Simon & Garfunkel. (From the beginning, Stringfellow and Auer had their choirboy harmonies down cold.) Though Failure is probably still the least-known of all the Posies' albums, it contains at least two all-time Stringfellow-Auer classics, the impassioned "Believe in Something Other (Than Yourself)" and the wistful "Paint Me." Failure is a terrific album, made more so when one thinks of how thoroughly this set of winsome folk-rock and psych-tinged set of pop songs went against the grain of the late-'80s Seattle scene.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow weren't old enough to buy beer (and hadn't outgrown the tragic fashion affectations of teenage Cure fans) when they created this low-budget pop masterpiece, recorded in a makeshift studio in the Auer family's home. And while it was the first salvo in what would become an enduring career in indie pop, Failure still remains one of the Posies' best and most purely enjoyable albums. Though there are brief moments while Auer and Stringfellow's inexperience betrays them, Failure is a strikingly accomplished piece of work; the instrumental work is solid, the lead vocals and harmonies are splendid, the production is crisp and imaginative (especially for an album cut by amateurs on an eight-track setup in someone's basement), and the songcraft is remarkably precocious in its skill, fusing elements of smart pop both old (Beatles, Hollies) and new (XTC, R.E.M.) as they brewed up melodies and hooks that would have been the pride of musicians twice their age. And the Posies were smart enough to know how to work within their limitations; while later albums like Dear 23 and Frosting on the Beater aimed for a grand-scale sound, Failure's songs work beautifully with these compact arrangements and efficient production, and as a consequence, this doesn't sound like Auer and Stringfellow's juvenilia, but a work with an engaging personality all its own. Failure was originally self-released on cassette by the Posies before the scrappy Northwest indie label Popllama gave it the wider hearing that it truly deserved; as homemade pop record-making goes, Failure just edges out Shoes' Black Vinyl Shoes as the masterpiece of this small but worthy field of endeavor.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/17/1993
  • Label: Popllama
  • UPC: 053254232321
  • Catalog Number: 2323
  • Sales rank: 116,970

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Posies Primary Artist
Jon Auer Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Ken Stringfellow Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Guitar, Drums, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Tambourine, Vocals, Hand Clapping, Shaker
Technical Credits
Jon Auer Composer, Producer, Engineer
John Golden Mastering
Ken Stringfellow Composer, Producer
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Right Answers

    Through singer/songwriters Jon Auer and Ken Stringfello later aligned themselves with a variety of rhythm sections, much of their 1989 debut, FAILURE, was recorded as a duo. While grunge was being born in the Posies' native Seattle at the same time, FAILURE shows no traces of its influence. Instead, it owes considerably more to the more reflective side of fellow Seattleites the Young Fresh Fellows and to San Fransisco's Sneetches, both in the jangly, '60s-derived, folk-rock-influenced melodies and in Stringfellow and Auer's often melancholy everyday-life lyrics, as on ''The Longest Line'' and the heartbreaking ''Ironing Tuesdays''. Althrough the anthemic ''Believe in Something Other Than Yourself'' is probably the album's best offering, all 12 songs are excellent. Just before the Posies called it quits in 1998, they returned to the same studio, producer, and label that had spawned FAILURE to their farewell album, SUCCESS.

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