The debut by the one-man project Assemblage 23 was a good album indeed, with dance hits like "Purgatory" and "Anthem". Tom Shear has been working hard ever since and the result is this, the new album "Failure". And what a step forward it is! The song writing, lyrics and production all have been taken leap and bounds ahead of the previous release.
Lyric wise there is a lot of pain and anguish, which may not be that strange since the album is dedicated to Tom's father who took his own life on October 28 1999. A lot of the songs seem to be about just that; how Tom reacted to and tries to handle it. For example, in the excellent dance smasher "Disappoint" he sings, "Did I disappoint you? / Did I let you down? / Did I stand on the shore / And watch you as you drowned?".
There hasn't been a record in a long time with such good and intelligent lyrics in combination with this kind of catchy melodies on top of hard beats and whirling synthesizers. Tom's voice is also impressive, and often he sings without effects.
There are no filler tracks to be found, whether it's full-on dance mania or a bit slower and moody like "Longevity", a really groovy track where Tom seems to finally come at peace with his father's decision.
Some people say this album sounds like VNV Nation (another similar band with good lyrics), but I think it stands on its own, with a typical Assemblage 23 sound. If you like the new breed of body pop you should definitely buy this one, because it's at the top of the genre. Hmm, then again, you should buy it anyway.