Failure
Magnified


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew Stocker USER (16 Reviews)
September 20th, 2009 | 32 replies | 8,979 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of the best and most overlooked albums of the 90s alternative boom.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Magnified never had a chance to succeed commercially. It was released at a time when so many previously-underground alternative bands were trying to capitalize on their new, major-label contracts that it became difficult to keep track on them all. It was released on the same day as Soundgarden’s Superunknown and Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, two of the biggest alternative albums of the decade. And a month after its release the body of Kurt Cobain was found and Nirvana instantly became legendary, which certainly didn’t help a band whose debut album was unfavorably compared to the grunge pioneers. Fifteen years later, everyone still knows Nirvana and Failure's popularity has grown only marginally at best. Nevertheless, popularity doesn’t determine quality and Failure’s middle album is certainly a fine example of this.

Failure’s debut, 1992’s Comfort, was met with largely average reviews, which was fair as it is a largely average album. It has its moments, but not enough of them and as a result the buzz for their follow-up, Magnified, was extant but not considerable. The fact that they were endlessly compared to Nirvana caused many to write them off as unoriginal, but while the similarities are there, mainly in their punk influences, the more fair comparison would be Hum. Failure had a not-so-subtle love for science fiction, and their music reflected that as their sound was bigger and spacier than Nirvana’s. They were also utterly melodic at pretty much all times, whereas Nirvana was oftentimes intentionally challenging and difficult to listen to, making Magnified more accessible than arguably all of their albums.

Magnified opens fairly conventionally with the up-tempo, sort of catchy, and heavily distorted “Let it Drip” followed by the better “Moth,” which pulls off the soft-loud-louder dynamic without sounding stale. The band really hits its stride on “Frogs,” with its stomping rhythm leading the way and the guitars creating a huge soundscape that they would eventually improve upon. “Bernie” follows and is excellent, with its mix of acoustic and distorted electric guitar creating a sound that is equally hypnotic and creepy. The lone single, “Undone,” is truly catchy and “Wet Gravity” approaches metal, making it stand out a bit, but honestly there is not a bad track on the record, it maintains a high quality throughout. Almost all the playing on Magnified is by the duo of Ken Andrews, who sings and plays guitar and bass, and Greg Edwards, who also plays guitar and bass as well as playing some of the drums on the album. John Dargahi also contributed on the drums, but otherwise this is entirely Andrews and Edwards, who are also the producers. This is an album that sounds simple on the surface, but reveals itself to be much more intricate upon closer listening. Andrews and Edwards perform admirably, never sounding sloppy nor getting too flashy with their instruments. Andrews’ vocals lack range, but are pleasant and impassioned.

There are only two things holding Magnified back from being a truly classic album instead of just an extremely good one. First is the lack of that one song that sets itself apart from the rest and grabs you right away without letting go. There are only good songs here, but there is nothing as instantly memorable as a song like “Stuck on You,” which appeared on 1996’s Fantastic Planet and was the closest thing the band had to a hit. The second thing just so happens to be Fantastic Planet, which ended up being the band’s final album and possibly the alternative movement’s last great hoorah. It is a sprawling epic in every sense of the word, and tends to overshadow its predecessor due in large part to its last five tracks, which found the duo perfecting their sound and creating immense songs like “Heliotropic” and “Daylight.” Still, while Magnified may not be Failure’s best album, it still is some of the best space rock and alternative rock of the 90s, and should not be overlooked by any fans of these genres.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Titan50
September 20th 2009



4588 Comments


I feel bad that this review is getting 0 attention

TheGreatD17
September 20th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's tough to compete with Album.

TheGreatD17
September 20th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn double post.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 20th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amazing record... fantastic planet is better

TheGreatD17
September 20th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My last paragraph in six words basically.

CompanionCube
September 20th 2009



977 Comments


album art is pretty rediculous and i love it

MassiveAttack
September 20th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album finally gets a review.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 20th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you recommended "Shiner - The Egg"... never heard of it. is it alt space rock? i'm addicted to that genre. some other awesome related things:

Cave In - Jupiter
Cave In - Antenna
My Vitriol - Finelines
Ken Andrews (of Failure) - Secret of the Lost Satellite
Nihiling - Meiosis
Amplifier (Self titled as well as The Astronaut Dismantles Hal)
Oceansize - Effloresce

and Hum of course. stephen brodsky (of cave in) has some good solo stuff as well.

TheGreatD17
September 20th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The Egg is like a post-hardcore album performed by Oceansize. Shiner toured with Hum before they broke up too, you might like it.

Chewie
September 20th 2009



4531 Comments


really awesome review, good that you're shedding some light on this.

TheGreatD17
September 20th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, it was my intention.

foreverendeared
September 20th 2009



14678 Comments


yeah good review, Fantastic Planet is an amazing album. I've had this for a while now but i've really only listened to it a few times now, so i haven't really formed an opinion yet

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 20th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

tbh popular opinion is that this is better than fantastic planet... idk why

MassiveAttack
September 20th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really? I myself prefer Fantastic Planet to this.

TheGreatD17
September 21st 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't know, this has a lower rating on RYM and they're tied here. The only reason I can think of would be because of Fantastic Planet's length turning some people off.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 21st 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

last time i checked this had a higher rating on rym. hmm.

TheGreatD17
September 21st 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I guess people are coming around, I've noticed it getting mentioned on lists a bit recently.

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 27th 2009



2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel that Failure is an underrated band. They were awesome. I love "Empty Friend." I just think Ken Andrews is a badass.

booyahachieved
February 11th 2010



30 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love Fantastic Planet but it's #2 on my list in terms of a favorite failure album. FP is just too long. Magnified is like a more streamlined and down to business ordeal. From start to finish it's A+ material.

If I could only take 5 albums with me to a desert island this would be one of them.

ianlutz
September 13th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is Failure's best album, and to many this will sound like I'm going out on a limb, but this is one of the 10 best albums of the 90s. Failure is a truly influential act that never got the attention they so blatantly deserved. Magnified is one of the most hypnotic and cryptic albums I've ever heard, even more so than it's followup Fantastic Planet. This album from start to finish is a masterpiece.



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