Katie Malco’s last EP, the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Tearing Ventricles’, was a piano-led adventure in loss and she’s toured alongside the emo-storytelling might of Julien Baker and Kevin Devine with nothing but a beat-up electric guitar. A musical magpie, Malco makes do with whatever she can get her hands on.
Debut album ‘Failures’ finds her with a full band and rather than getting lost with the giddy excitement of a kid in a candy shop, it only amplifies the power of her voice as she kicks open new doors.
The opening ‘Animals’ is an urgent burst of claustrophobia, thirteen beers deeps and feeling like a stranger on the bus home, Malco wrestles with a restless rage while the deliberate pace of ‘Brooklyn’ needs other people. The title track is frayed, held together with tape but resilient as it comes into bloom before a reworked ‘September’ brings things crashing down “I’m not the easiest company,” sings Malco, an unsure voice in a sea of chaos.
Very much part of the UK alt-rock scene that gave us Tall Ships, Tellison and Gnarwolves, there’s a scrappy sense of fight in ‘Fractures’ that sits next to the American Midwest emo of her hurt. Think Phoebe Bridgers if she was from Peckham, Jimmy Eat World in a London pub.
Delicate yet tough, Katie Malco’s debut captures fleeting beauty and resilient war with brilliant flair. From ‘TW’s repeated “I’m still alive” through the realisation of “there’s no truth in the glory of youth” that stands tall on ‘Creatures’, ’Failures’ is a record about struggle and hard-fought victory. Bruised, bloodied but unwavering Katie Malco is a fighter staring down existential and everyday crises. As the haunting ‘The First Snow’ goes out swinging, Katie Malco emerges victorious.