Failures' Union - In What Way (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Failures' Union

In What Way (2009)

Paper + Plastick

If there's a '90s alternative revival going on in the indie-punk circles (Cheap Girls...uh, know), count the Failures' Union in. This seems to be their second LP, and the recording and songwriting is stepped up in a fresh way that makes this album light and enjoyable on a more consistent basis.

Warning: There are legit Counting Crows similarities on In What Way. In what way, do you ask? Well, a decidedly douche-less one, at least. Frontman Tony Flaminio does have a vaguely Adam Duritz-esque, semi-baritone quality to his voice that solidifies such thinking (especially "Comb"), but musically, this is often more in lines with the livelier Lemonheads stuff. But when they really turn it up, shit! "Lake Erie Nosedive" is a sunny, laid-back opener that gets cut to the dust when the comparatively uptempo, energetic and fun as hell "Hidden Song" follows it. When TFU go full-tilt like this, it's most awesome and In What Way is at its best.

"Glasses" offers a carefully slower mid-album toe-tapper, but the greatest moment of restraint comes with the acoustic/electric flourishes and Flaminio's heartfelt twang for drifting, almost balladic closer "The Best Liars," which offers plenty of soft/loud dynamics and a fluttering fadeout that leaves you wanting more.

Sinker didn't quite do it for me on first listen, but In What Way is a more immediate and enriching effort; it's probably worth your attention if you've been into punk for a decade but harbor irony-free love for New Miserable Experience too.

In What Way