Howie Chen


khaos light crafts a reason to carry on in ‘failure to adapt’

April 30, 2019
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“I feel the album works best if you listen to it in order all the way through in one go, because it tells a linear story. But if you just wanna listen to the songs out of order, you can do that. I’m not your dad, so you can do whatever.”

We’ve taken to grading concept albums on a curve, at least narratively speaking. Let’s be real: Tommy is a great record, but the story makes no goddamn sense, The Wall is basically just a 2-hour incel manifesto anchored by a handful of iconic guitar riffs, and American Idiot is well, it’s a Green Day album for better and for worse. So listening to Failure to Adapt, the new record from Texas’ Khaos Light is a nearly unprecedented accomplishment in terms of storytelling. Split between a high-concept postmordem narrative and dense emotional songs, the record is almost more the soundtrack to a musical that hasn’t been staged yet than what we tend to call a concept album.

“All of this writing and acting is a selfish attempt to someone else so that I’ll stop hating myself.”

Khaos light tells us the album was inspired by his time in high school and early college. “Growing up, I was always the only Black kid in my school and had trouble finding people that shared my interests. On top of attending cut-throat performing arts schools, I also was dealing with traumatic family drama, and major depression disorder and anxiety. I wrote this album because I knew I wasn’t the only one who had experienced difficulties like these.”

Khaos Light comes from a background as an actor, and the record serves as a rejoinder to the old line that all musicians want to be actors and all actors want to be musicians. In the record’s best moments, he finds a way to be both, marrying golden age hip-hop storytelling with moments of post-hardcore intensity. The interludes set up each song, and add touches of meta humor to what could easily have devolved into grimdark Reznorisms. Highlights like “Cognitive Dissonance” and “Run” stand alone, despite the “Intro,” while the rest of the record works together as a whole, telling a difficult story about struggling with mental health and trying to find a reason to live. Your move, Pete Townshend.