The Posies were always a fresh alternative to the dark, heavy, grungy rock music emanating from their Seattle home; they proudly waved the power-pop flag, recording songs in their basement that sounded as good as the records they were inspired by. The core duo of Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer started their collaboration in 1986, and quickly developed into a tight songwriting act that belied their relatively young age.
It’s no surprise, then, that they gained a major label deal well before the Seattle phenomenon took off; on the strength of numbers like “I May Hate You Sometimes” and “At Least For Now,” it was clear that these two young guys had a lot of potential. Though they would become known for their work with heroes like R.E.M. and Big Star, the influence of said bands wasn’t as obvious as later records; if anything, one hears echoes of Elvis Costello, especially on “Believe in Something Other Than Yourself” and “What Little Remains”
The bonus tracks on this anniversary release are interesting, even if they aren’t particularly revelatory. The handful of instrumental demos show how the duo’s composition skills were already highly formed when they came together, and the demo version of “Like Me Too” is a true gem of a home recording. Then again, it’s hard to top the perfection that is Failure.
The band named their debut album Failure as an ironic statement on what they felt would be the album’s success. (They would also named their then-final album Success) Who knew they were wrong? Bigger albums would come, and bigger opportunities would arise for the two hungry, starry-eyed teenagers in the band—opportunities that would take them all over the world, and would allow them to take part in the rebirth of one of their favorite bands.
Failure? Not by a long shot…