Failure is ultimately an album you can put your arms around and give a great big hug to, and – maybe, just maybe – a big, wet sopping kiss.
The third album from Chicago’s Unicycle Loves You appropriately drops on Valentine’s Day 2012. And there’s a fair deal to love about this trio’s latest, the ironically-titled Failure. While the band earns comparisons to the likes of Guided by Voices – which I don’t see, unless titling your songs “Wow Wave Cinema” and “Master Medical Driveway” taps into the same stream-of-consciousness whimsy of Robert Pollard – what Unicycle Loves You brings to the dining room table are hooky, brash-y dream pop songs that jangle with ferocity. “Piranha” even taps into the same vibe as Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth, while “Bitch Eye” sounds a little Beach Boys-y to these ears with its ‘60s surf pop cadence. (Or, maybe if you bring it up, a little like Tennis come to think of it). The aforementioned “Master Medical Driveway” sounds like a lost Sebadoh B-side. And, yes, there are lush boy-girl harmonies on display, and you can draw comparisons to the New Pornographers, as SPIN magazine has done, if you want. But only if you want.
There’s nothing particularly lacking about Failure, though, at a half-hour long, it’s a little short. Some of these songs have such a polished pop sheen that you want to get lost in them and have them stretch out a little more. But, OK, to make a comparison to Guided by Voices, their best songs always have you wanting to go back and listen to them again to have them spin around your head. So Unicycle Loves You is pretty good at creating demand within their own sonic landscape. While some of the material does sound vaguely like other indie rock bands – I swear that I’ve heard the riff to “Separate Places” somewhere else, but I’m grasping at straws to figure out where – Failure is ultimately an album you can put your arms around and give a great big hug to, and – maybe, just maybe – a big, wet sopping kiss. The album may be titled Failure, but, when it really matters, the album is something of a success. Perhaps not an unqualified one, but something worth trekking down to your local indie record store and seeking out.