Failing Songs is Matt Elliott’s third album since ditching the Third Eye Foundation name. Of all his albums, it’s by far the least varied. It basically takes the template of woozy Eastern European tavern music that he established on 2005’s Drinking Songs and runs with it. The melodies are boozy, the tempos mainly in waltz or tango time, and the arrangements dominated by acoustic guitar, balalaika and gypsy fiddles. Its subject matter is largely dying, death and the dead.
There are some good songs on the album, but there is an over-riding air of sameness about the whole thing that gets a little wearing. Elliott sings in a hushed tone which he then multi-tracks to give a kind of seasick harmony. The problem is, though, that it gives all the songs an air of ennui which is soon picked up by the listener. Failing Songs has some genuinely lovely passages, but is too homogenous to really work as an album.