When compared to their Californian punk revival contemporaries, Face to Face can be considered somewhat underrated, and not for a very good reason. Despite being on Fat Wreck Chords for a short period of time and a decent amount of air play with their 1992 single Disconnected
, Face to Face are rarely mentioned up there today with the many Bad Religion/The Vandals influenced followers from the Californian punk scene such as Lagwagon and Pennywise. But nevertheless, between 1991 and 2003 Face to Face released some very worthy albums of the nineties’ melodic brand of pop punk, and their third studio effort is one of those albums.
In 1996, at the peak of their popularity, the band did what would cause almost any elitist to find a reason to betray the band: signed to a major label. In a similar situation as Jawbreaker, Face to Face signed to a major label (A&M) but the result would be some of their finest work of their career. After a few lineup adjustments, the self titled record was released in the fall of 1996 followed by the bands usual heavy tour schedule. But major label aside, their sound didn’t alter drastically, with only slightly cleaner production (which works in its favor) and tighter rhythms that can signal a somewhat change. However the bands energy, catchiness and melody are all still in tact (if not gotten better) and the lyrical works of guitarist and vocalist Trevor Keith only improved.
Even though they share many features in common with a great many of 90s punk revival bands, Face to Face still have a unique punch to them, which can’t be said for every band. The self titled disc, comprised of catchy, driving guitar riffs, simple but effective bass lines, up to speed drums, alluring melodies and backing vocals with an edge, should appeal to just about any fan of the genre. Countering with many of their fellow California punk bands, Face to Face’s lyrics are not very highly political or humorous, but rather sung from a reflective, personal point of view that deals with many relatable topics which makes the band so likeable, comparable to Jawbreaker (but not quite as good as).
The majority of songs on the album don’t differ too much in structure, however most take leanings toward a certain mood or style, some more in the direction of pop punk and others a rougher, faster approach that lean towards straight up punk, like the opener Resignation
goes with the latter instrumentally but Keith’s vocal melodies can make any song addictively catchy. Handout
uses Keith’s clean, powerful vocals to make it a standout track while Walk The Walk
’s memorable bass line separates it from the rest with help from a catch chorus as well. I Won’t Lie Down
, one of the bands more popular tunes for a reason, is a contender for best on the record, not because of an unexpected solo or sudden change in pace, but simply because of an excellent all round performance from the quartet.
Face To Face’s self titled album is one of the better albums to come out of the punk revival in California. Though not many risky chances are taken here in terms of diversifying their sound, the band sticks to what they know and have been improving on it since day one. ‘Face to Face’
is a solid punk album with a number of great aspects including, but not limited to consistent energy fueled anthems and respectable lyrics. An excellent album within the genre that deserves more recognition than it gets.
I Won’t Lie Down