Failure - Fantastic Planet (1996), 7/10

Fantastic Planet is an album that holds a special place in my personal story as an album that held emotional significance of a simpler time. I vividly recall the moment when I first listened to the album in high school while I was studying for an exam, desperately yearning to escape reality, and in that moment Failure's space rock magic worked its wonders, truly transporting me to another spacious world. Its effectiveness was bolstered by my affinity for grunge at the time, but many of its later moments transcended its limitations and made its impact longer-lasting than it otherwise would be. One of the most well-crafted and sonically pleasing tracks lies in "Blank", which possesses an ethereal quality that immediately captivates and has remained one of their greatest, evoking a sensation of weightlessness, as if effortlessly floating towards the vast expanse of the night sky. Both "Blank" along with the rest of the record have the power to evoke a profound emotional response from their simple catchy melodies paired with grand, yet grounded instrumentation. Yet it is worth noting that Fantastic Planet delves deeper than just escapism as an album experience. Although it is not entirely consistent from front to back as far as songwriting quality and integrity, it undoubtedly boasts some of Failure's best singular compositions and narratives, especially in its most ambitious songs. It carries a profound connection to the complexities of depression, capturing peculiar and often desolate struggles. "Another Space Song" is a clear favorite and stands as a pinnacle of beauty and exquisite songwriting, weaving a tapestry of emotions that resonates deeply with those who have experienced its singular feelings of transcendence while its introspective lyrics create a haunting atmosphere. While "Blank" and "Another Space Song" shine as notable highlights, it would be remiss not to mention the album's opening and closing melodies bookending the journey, along with the segues that would become a staple in Failure's toolbox, for good reason. "Daylight" as a closer, too, approaches mastery in its composition and emotional impact. It serves as a fitting conclusion to the journey embarked upon throughout Fantastic Planet, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness in a poetic fashion. Failure, through their heavy instrumentation and lyrics, managed to capture the nuances of isolation in a way that resonates with many of us, all in the cavernous expanse of space. They navigate the depths of the human experience, exploring themes of isolation, longing, and the struggle to find meaning in an often chaotic world, even touching on the timeless and wonderfully philosophical story in "Solaris" of the same name. While at moments it can slump into the comfortable, standard tropes of nineties alt rock and grunge, the moments of individualistic, metaphysical sci-fi storytelling blended with heavy, yet intricate sounds make it a special experience, reaching beyond the genre's limitations.