This very publication once pronounced the Successful Failures “one of the hardiest and most prolific outfits on the planet,” and who are we to argue given the brilliance of their latest epoch, obtusely titled Ichor of Nettle. As always, it’s their ability to bend the boundaries between indie pop and effusive Americana that separates them from the pack. Whether it’s the wholly infectious “The Ballad of Julio Cuellar,” the unrelenting surge of songs like “Misguiding Light” and "All Wrapped Up," or the amiable ramble of "Baby Home Tonght" and “Tennessee Boy,” the Successful Failures remain in top form, creating an intoxicating sound that’s been perfected over the span of five previous albums.
Granted, when you brand your band with a name like Successful Failures, you’re admitting some degree of disappointment, but suffice it to say, there’s no letdown here, and, in fact, it’s rather remarkable that ten years after their formation, this New Jersey-based band hasn’t relinquished any of the energy or enthusiasm originally demonstrated so early on. While their subjects occasionally tilt toward the unexpected, be it Viking adventures, crime stories, tales of incarceration, or what have you, they always manage to stay true to their indie ethos and careen their way through whatever muse happens to attract their collective fancy. Here, for example, they sing in celebration of Sam Houston, a preference for Pennsylvania, or a faithful father, but the sheer exhilaration that comes through in the music is consistently revved up in top gear.
Further demonstration of that energy and aptitude is evident in the limited edition live EP Red Bank that reprises four songs from the new album, even while elevating them to new heights.