Shelter Boy – Failure Familiar

‘Failure Familiar’ is brightness bottled.

Label: Scruff of the Neck
Released: 10th September 2021

The distinctive cadence of Shelter Boy’s voice welcomes you into the pastel-tinted world of ‘Failure Familiar’. It’s a world that lyrically might send you scrambling headfirst into startling self-awareness, but sonically, it’s lemony bright and full of grooves. 

That dichotomy is at the core of the album – failure is ultimately inevitable, but important. Once you recognise that inevitability, a new shade of optimism has the chance to shine through. Shelter Boy’s every note dances in that newfound light. It’s a revitalised rendition of bedroom pop, yet it frequently wanders into various unexpected musical territories. On ‘Atmosphere’, there’s tinges of 90s indie-rock, but elsewhere it is the easy, jangly guitars that are a mainstay.

‘Terrace’ sees Shelter Boy enlist the help of Boy Pablo to create a shimmering tale of vulnerability and the search for comfort. It’s quietly romantic in its own laidback, harmony-laden way. Elsewhere, the album revels in melancholia – the titular track dials the frenetic energy that pounds through the majority of the album down a notch. Instead, it relies on easy acoustic strumming, and those endearingly scratchy vocals take centre stage. 

It might be an album about embracing and understanding failure, but the emphasis is placed on getting back up. There is an abundance of undiluted joy that bounces throughout the album and buoys each track. Shelter Boy urges you to regather yourself and learn the art of acceptance. With his jazzy guitars and shuffling, infectious percussions, he manages to remind you of the brighter side of life. ‘Failure Familiar’ is that brightness bottled.

4.0 rating
Total Score

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