Review Summary: This album has everything the previous one had and so much more. It also addresses the shortcomings of "Contempt", firmy setting Assemblage 23's style in stone for the albums to come.
Alright, so after reviewing Assemblage 23's debut album, it's time for the follow-up, "Failure". It's quite risky, even audacious to name your album so, but Tom Shear doesn't care. And rightfully so - this album won't get picked on for being "appropriately named" nor anything like that. It's great.
First of all, let's talk about the differences between this album and "Contempt", of which there are many. Most noteworthy is the shift from dark, brooding, dystopian, droning songs into more upbeat ones with much more energy. They're also considerably more lighthearted (although still with an overall serious tone), and a whole ***load more catchy. Yep, the catchiness of this album is what makes it so good - the genre is supposed to be called electropop/futurepop, and we're finally getting the pop we were promised.
While still reminescent of Alex Brandon's work, this album moves much closer in tone to the works of artists such as Depeche Mode or Hurts (naturally with more electronics). The pop tendency almost completely overshadows the industrial/darkwave flavor of "Contempt', while still maintaining the synthy hooks which made that album so good. This was probably achieved thanks to Tom Shear's singing, which is now prevalent throughout the album, as opposed to the sparingly used passages on "Contempt" - a huge nod towards Depeche mode in regards to execution, as well as lyrical content. Poppier influences shine through in songs like Tried, while others like Disappoint feel like techno and even border on eurodance. Considerably less contemplative and ambient than its predecessor, and more "imposing" if you will, "Failure" is definitely a unique experience which provides most of what "Contempt" can give you and then some.