Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Face To Face - Laugh Now, Laugh Later

Face To Face
Laugh Now, Laugh Later
Antagonist Records/People Like You Records/Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

With their first three releases (1992’s ‘Don’t Turn Away’, 1994’s ‘Big Choice’ and 1996’s ‘Face To Face’), Californian act Face To Face were not only a force to be reckoned with, but one of the unsung founders the early punk rock/pop-punk movement, which has since gone on to become a well established scene in its own right. However, despite their early success, the band’s releases around the late 1990’s/early 2000’s (In particular 1999’s ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, 2000’s ‘Reactionary’ and 2002’s ‘How To Ruin Everything’) didn’t fare as well with critics or fans (Due to a change in musical climate and the album’s departure in style and direction from the band’s earlier releases), which inevitably saw the band officially announce a parting of ways in 2003. But after an absence of four years, the group reunited, with the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Trever Keith, guitar/vocalist Chad Yaro, bassist/vocalist Scott Shiflett and ex-Uprising drummer Danny Thompson) touring periodically throughout the two years that followed.
Now after a lengthy nine years since their last studio album, Face To Face are back with something new for fans with the release of their seventh studio album (Excluding 1999’s covers album ‘Standards & Practices’) ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’.
Given the band’s track record, ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’ was either going to be a return to the band’s early trademark sound, or an extension of the somewhat different style they were aiming for in the latter years. Thankfully, Face to Face have given fans what they’ve been waiting for, and opted for a sound that falls in line with their earlier releases.
The band announce their return to form status with the album’s opening track ‘Should Anything Go Wrong’, which is a fast paced punk rocker that’s clearly vintage Face To Face with it’s huge sounding guitars and equally huge melodic choruses. ‘It’s Not All About You’ (The first single from the album) is every bit as impressive with a touch more aggression coming out through Keith’s vocals to match the biting lyrics, while tracks such as ‘I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter’, ‘The Invisible Hand’, ‘Bombs Away’ and ‘All For Nothing’ (Which features some truly rocking lead work) are further favourites.
That’s not to say that Face To Face have entirely given up on experimenting with their sound, as ‘Blood In The Water’, the garage rock sounding ‘Stopgap’ (Perhaps the only track that brings to mind the band’s sound and direction on ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’) and ‘Pushover’ (A song that originally appeared on Keith’s solo album ‘Melancholics Anonymous’ from 2008) reveal varying degrees of shift from the traditional early sound of the band.
At this late stage of their career, no-one is expecting Face To Face to reinvent the punk rock/pop-punk sound with the release of a new album. Instead, all fans ask for is an album that’s solid, with more winners than fillers. And thankfully, Face To Face have achieved that with ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’.

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© Justin Donnelly