Review Summary: If there is one time to start appreciating Far, it's now.
Way back when in 1998, Far were an underground success with Water & Solutions
, and while it hardly caught onto the masses, it was deemed rather successful and incredibly influential (cited by bands such as Thursday and Blink-182). Stylistically, they combined alterative-rock, with pop-hooks and post-hardcore riffs with an underpinning punk roots. In other words, Water & Solutions
was an earful to try and unscramble without actually listening to Far. However, the second time around, their sound is a bit clearer with At Night We Live
, but that shift hardly occurred overnight.
So exactly what has Far done since their break seemingly forever ago? Well, Jonah Matranga had the time of his life since Far disbanded twelve years ago, and this was apparent from the ecstatic, infectious smile he brought to every show. Since Far’s last album Water & Solutions
, Matranga has toured solo, under his pseudonym Onelinedrawing and under his name Jonah Matranga, and also a short stint with two side projects New End Original and Gratitude. With each project, Jonah has become a better singer, and lyricist, especially during his solo career, as his ideas developed more than ever before with such freedom. And yet, their hiatus growth hardly stops with Matranga, as guitarist Shaun Lopez produced a slew of albums, most notably Deftones’ album Saturday Night Wrists
that likely changed his overall songwriting approach. Bassist John Gutenberger and drummer Chris Robyn pursued other musical endeavors with the bands Two Sheds and Will Haven respectively. All four put aside their past riffs and created something many thought would never happen, an album together.
One of the first striking differences between At Night We Live
and Water & Solutions
is how much heavier, and yet jovial At Night We Live
plays. Perhaps due to the fact Water & Solutions
was filled with a certain amount of angst and glumness around it. But now, At Night We Live
is a gleaming beacon of hope, as told by the title track, “At Night We Live” and even the shimmer of the album cover. “At Night We Live,” a song written about a dream Matranga had about speaking with incapacitated bassist Chi Cheng of Deftones fame, throttles with slow, yet forceful emotion, as Matranga belts ‘daytime we’re dead, but at night we live.’ Elsewhere, “Deafening” and “Dear Enemy” contain the heaviest riffs Far have produced, and are hardly limited within the album (hell, the intro riff to “Pony,” a cover of R&B artist Ginuwine, blows their previous albums away).
But Far are not completely transformed into a heavy riff-orientated band. Closing track, “The Ghost That Kept Haunting” broods with dissonant guitar riffs, as drums act as the defining climaxes throughout the track, rather than any kind of vocal or guitar shift. Meanwhile, “When I Could See” slowly clicks with each snare tap as a swinging riff brings forth a slow tenseness which is eventually brought full circle in a truly immense track without ever exploding as one might expect. On a lighter note, “Better Surrender” and “Give Me A Reason” has a certain pop prowess that defines its charm, showing the versatility of At Night We Live
In a word, At Night We Live
is refreshing. Far are heavy, but without sounding like a generic rock band, poppy yet not cheesy, and proud to show they are back. And they should be. In essence, Far does it right
in every aspect of dynamics and pacing through the album. Their sound is unparallel as a whole, as genres clash on a regular basis, in a cornucopia of brilliance. At Night We Live
could have easily floundered after such a long hiatus, but Far flourish and prove they are worth the wait.