Pop music has been enduring what could be mildly described as a creative lull in the 2010s, and a lot of critics have been debating the reason why. For me the reason couldn’t be any simpler – pop is suffering because the majority of its most heavily promoted artists have grown reticent about wearing their emotions on their sleeve. Where once it wouldn’t have been uncommon to discover an album where a songwriter was willing to put everything in their soul on the line, it’s now become a rarity to be valued once brought to the surface. Jim Clements’ new album A Failure is everything that his peers’ most recent work isn’t – it’s emotional, intimately poignant and unafraid of releasing its star’s innermost thoughts unto the world. A Failure isn’t just a breath of fresh air for music fans in 2018 – it’s a heaven sent refuge from the triteness of modern FM radio.
Take A Failure’s “I Am Here For You” for example. Despite the fact that Jim Clements is telling us that he’ll always be there waiting to catch us when we fall, the vacuum like riff that guides the track draws us away from his grasp ever so slowly. This isn’t a love song – this is a ballad about love slipping away from our hands, even when we’re giving in to all of its cruelest demands. Clements isn’t even singing about what it’s like to feel the pain of someone walking away from him; he’s imparting to us what he sounds like as that same someone fades into the ethers, never to see him again. Not even Joy Division’s most existential songs cut as deep as this one does, and that’s no understatement by any stretch of the imagination.
Every little detail of this album is magnified by its unforgiving master mix and its carefully structured tension, which is evenly distributed between the tracks before reaching a fever pitch in the culminating “Fire Engine Blues.” Jim Clements music is notoriously nimble and tightly wound, but this record is by far his most meticulously crafted. Everything inA Failure has its place, and stays there, under the studious command of Clements and his emotionally charged swagger that ignites passion with every lyric he sings.
I didn’t just love what I heard in A Failure – I was genuinely moved by its organic expression of emotion. What makes Jim Clements new album so amazing isn’t just the fact that it comes to us at a point in history where we’re desperate for even a taste of originality in music, but more so how elegantly its translates the soul of Clements himself. A Failurewill make you laugh, cry, reflect and, more than anything else, it will make you excited about modern music again. Jim Clements only releases a record every few years or so, and although waiting for his next album is going to be difficult to do, I have a feeling that I won’t be bored in the meantime as I and others like me get lost in the brilliance that is his most recent masterpiece.