Review Summary: The power of failing is something Mineral have yet to experience.
That moment in “Gloria” when the instruments suddenly kick in and Chris Simpson oh-so gloriously cries out “I have not yet arrived, how can I not admit I need to know you?” is what this album is in a nutshell. The Power of Failing
doesn’t sugarcoat any resonating emotions; no, it hits you over the head with them. The Power of Failing
makes you feel the pain, the desperation and the longing that was put together during its recording. Every heartbroken, angst-ridden word that Simpson sings is kept intact, and the no-bullshit approach is what makes Mineral’s first foray into the music scene so impactful. All you need to do is read the title. In it, failure does not equate disappointment; rather, failure is a type of strength, a superhuman ability that has the power to build or break.
Out of all the bands that made up the 90s emo scene, Mineral made a name for themselves with their poetic lyrics, soft-loud dynamic and Simpson’s vocals, coated with layers of self-tormenting and despair. When the opening riff to “Five, Eight and Ten” plays, there’s never a day where the first verse fails to move me, and as the story of a man who “kick[s] himself just to show how he still bleeds” unfolds, I find myself in the same position every time, relating to every single word that comes out of his mouth. That final “I know I bring it on myself” is tinged with the sound of defeat, the sound of giving up, and it’s that point where Simpson comes off as completely broken and vulnerable. He’s not the only one.
The Power of Failing
showcases some of the most depressing, pitying lyrics of 90s emo, and it’s all just so damn effective. Simpson was gifted with the ability to make listeners feel sympathetic to his plight of self-hatred and feeling hopeless. Defined by goldmines such as “I wanted to taste that victory but my mouth was dry”, “I know I don’t deserve this, the capacity to feel, to laugh and cry and to praise”, “The sun fell down again last night on my anger… on frustration, on spite” and “Happiness is just a dream or so it seems, it's something that I can never see” are not only deeply elegiac and eloquent, but extremely relatable and genuine. The heartfelt emotion that he sings with helps make him feel less like an otherworldly person and more like one that is speaking directly to you.
Instrumentally, The Power of Failing
finds a perfect balance between soft and loud. While most of the songs are structured around a quiet verse and an explosive chorus, not all of them fit the bill. Sure, the ones that do make up the album’s greatest highlights (come on, that sudden burst on the hook of “Gloria” is just classic), but look no further than the atmospheric “Dolorosa” or the electrifying “80-37” as examples of those that shine with their own style. It’s the way the riff just suddenly lets loose or how the inner beast inside drummer Gabriel Wiley is unleashed during these moments of such energy that make them so powerful.
Mineral were undoubtedly one of the most defining bands of the 1990s emo scene. Despite releasing only two albums (which really isn’t that little compared to their contemporaries), these Houston Texans made a name for themselves as master lyricists and talented songwriters. While The Power of Failing
may not be the absolute best record in its genre, what it accomplishes within its ten songs is more than satisfactory. While 1998’s excellent follow-up EndSerenading
may not have reached the heights of its predecessor, Mineral’s short yet sweet career began and ended on one of the best notes possible. The last line of the album goes, “When I'm finally naked and standing in the sunlight, I'll look back at all of this selfishness and foolish pride and laugh at myself”. I couldn’t have said it any better.