Review Summary: A sadly underappreciated and apparently forgotten slice of emo and pop punk.
In the late 90s Gameface released what would eventually be their penultimate - and by far their greatest – record, Every Last Time
. It landed without much fanfare and more than a decade on it seems to have drifted into complete obscurity. In this new millenium, and this brand new decade, androgynous people in tight, fashionable clothing rule over the pop punk/emo empire with a ruthless, sugary-sweet dominance that makes it the chart-topping hit-factory everyone knows and (insert emotion). But this wasn’t always the case. And case in point, we have Every Last Time
. Yes, there is pop here: simple, major-scale melodies, boy-loves-girl lyrics and an overall feeling that these songs are intended to be sung along to; but there is also a strong backbone of singer-songwriter americana and lyricism which flies in the face of genre expectations. All of which gives the whole thing an unmistakable maturity.
Back in the day this record was categorized rather differently depending on where you stood. The fans called it ‘emo’ because, at that time, the term was cool and edgy. And they were correct to. It certainly retains enough ‘core’ to deserve the precious three-letter accolade that precedes it: at points the singer, Jeff Caudill, is driven to the point where his voice is bubbling just under the surface of a scream; the guitar sound is a near cousin to the heavy, shortlived sound that New Found Glory sported in their self titled era, and, similar to that record, Gameface pressgang their sound into more melodic lines than it appears to want. But whilst NFG jump into the land of pop for a good old frolic, Gameface hold back; Caudill’s voice is rich in tone and more akin to an indie country singer, carrying with it an air of sincerity that a nasal whine just cannot produce. Still, though, this is a pop punk record. There are songs which hold so little claim on the term ‘emo’ that they almost split the tone of the record in two. Somehow, Gameface avoid this, so that My Star (which is about a girl) and Boy Wonder (which is about a guitar) become tiny yet evocative short stories; glimpses into the band’s then-recent, adolescent past.
Lyrically the album centres around a consistant emphasis on simple, yet somehow non-clichéd metaphor which sits perfectly with the more mature sound of the record. Almost all of the songs focus on a boy-girl relationship, but with such evocative – and at times quite dark – imagery, that it’s impossible not to experience the greater scope of each one. The broken relationship[s] here are explored with an obvious and considered sincerity, to the point that every facet of what has gone wrong in these lives is laid bare, raw as the day it happened. These are the songs of guys who don’t have a penny to their name, living in a world of broken glass and spraypaint, not the giggling superstars that bounce around television screens 24/7 today. There is a sense that these guys were falling out of love with the genre they had grew up in and it shows, but not in any way that hurts their overall sound. They make ‘jaded’ sound good, and for any fan of melodic punk, pop punk, emo or americana this album will give you something to do when all you want to hear is someone that’s worse off than you.
The Pirate Song
Everything I Do Is Wrong