Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow formed the Posies in 1987. During 1989 they self-released their debut album on cassette, which they basically sold at their concerts. They were eventually signed to a recording contact and have released seven studio albums to date.
Stringfellow and Auer have remained the constants in the band as the bass and drum players have changed several times during the course of their career. The band has remained somewhat active since its inception, despite the fact that the two founding members spent 12 years as a part of Alex Chilton’s Big Star, in addition to their pursuit of solo careers.
Omnivore Recordings has now reissued their debut album, complete with eight bonus tracks. Failure is certainly not as smooth as many of their later albums but its raw nature is part of its appeal. Their perfect harmonies are present as is their ability to write personal and relevant lyrics. The production leaves something to be desired but given the original recording process, it gets by.
They were one of the better examples of late 1980’s and early 1990’s power pop. The ability to combine their voices into wonderful harmonies has been compared to the Hollies. That vocal sound was fused into a powerful guitar sound, which is especially apparent when they are in acoustic mode.
“The Longest Line” is an example of all that is good about power pop and the Posies. An acoustic beginning and tight harmonies evolve into an upbeat and melodic track. “What Little Remains” are their harmonies at their best.
The eight bonus tracks are divided between four instrumentals and three demos of songs that were originally on the album. It is interesting to hear the transformation of “I May Hate You Sometimes,” “Paint Me,” and “Like Me Too” from demo to completion. The highlight is a live version of “Believe In Something (Other Than Yourself),” which presents their early concert sound.
Failure was recorded in a basement by two neophyte musicians, which shows that anything is possible. The Posies have always had a rabid fan base but large commercial success has eluded them and their debut album. The resurrection of Failure gives the album a well-deserved second chance.