The first and last album by Sheffield five-piece The Letters, Unknown Failures is a collection of the band’s proudest moments of the last ten years. A twelve track celebration before they individually move on to other projects.
Opening with the eight and a half minute odyssey, ‘The Irritant’ sets our expectations for the remainder of the album. ‘The Irritant’ is incredibly well structured consisting of many layers. It flows from slow, moving, breakdowns to powerful anthemic choruses. At several points during the track it forcefully re-emerges just when you think the song is about to end.
The album then goes into ‘Bones And Rag’ and ‘Don’t Forget To Smile’, two catchy indie-rock tracks reminiscent of Idlewild’s 100 Broken Windows. Then comes ‘Typewriter’, a 90s Indie style track with some excellent layered guitar work and dynamic vocals.
The Letters are a talented and diverse outfit, as capable of writing indie ballads like ‘Don’t Lock Yourself In’ as they are of knocking out rock anthems like ‘Champagne’. ‘Home With A Heartbreak’ combines the full range of the band’s skills.
The stand-out track on this album has to be ‘Second Layer’. The song combines a compelling vocal performance with punchy drum beats, forceful rock guitar parts and bass rumbling in the background.
Unknown Failures is a well structured and lyrically clever album full of unexpected changes in direction. The Letters combine genres creating a diverse and interesting piece of work with many appealing elements. Their formula of laying depressing lyrics over more upbeat guitar parts evokes emotion and power within each track. Although the lyrics are depressing they are not performed in that manner, instead the pain in the vocals has manifested itself as anger.
Unknown Failures is available as a download and also on C.D. in Record Collector (Broomhill, Sheffield).