Despite boasting a career spanning nearly twenty-two years, eight albums and a multitude of member changes (of which frontman Trevor Keith is the only original member) Face to Face have more or less stayed under my music radar. Despite touring with staples of my long-departed childhood including Bad Religion, The Offspring and Pulley, this is the first time I’ve really taken the time to listen to them.
Their latest album ’Three Chords And A Half Truth’ is the kind of melodic-punk record that should be blasted while singing along and banging on your cars steering wheel. For long-time fans of the band, be aware this album sounds little like their previous return-to-form album ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’, it seems Face to Face are hoping their latest release will bring more uninitiated listeners like myself into the fold.
Opening with mid-tempo foot-tapper ‘123 Drop’, ‘Three Chords and a Half Truth’ serves up twelve slices of old-school punk, ‘Welcome Back to Nothing’ and ‘First Step, Misstep’ have a distinctive sound in the vein of The Damned and The Clash, which in my opinion, is never a bad thing. The vintage vibe of the album makes it seem familiar from the get go, and while it doesn’t serve up much in the way of new ideas, songs about love, loss and good times are a fairly safe bet. As far as standout tracks go ‘Bright Lights Go Down’ is a definite highlight, with a catchy chorus designed to prompt a live sing-along.
The bulk of this album aims for sing-along status, there are big choruses and stomping drum beats, and while it’s less than original, ‘Three Chords And A Half Truth’ is a fun record. However while starting off as a promising release, the last four tracks are total filler, with the album simpering out into nothing. It feels really unfocused, which is a shame as it makes the whole album seem like it was rushed into production, and with a few minor tweaks it could have been better.
The big issue with ‘Three Chords And A Half Truth’ is that it plays it too safe. At some points it feels like they’re borrowing a little too heavily from other bands in the genre, ‘Flat Back’ sounds like a Rancid B-side, ‘Right As Rain’ sounds like every Social Distortion song ever. Luckily I’m a sucker for anything in this genre, but after a few repeat listens, it becomes impossible not to notice the similarities lessening the album’s lasting replay value.
‘Three Chords And A Half Truth’ is a perfectly acceptable addition to the genre, enjoyable but depthless. Face to Face’s 8th effort is a decent addition to your summer playlist, but probably won’t make anyone’s album of the year.
‘Three Chords And A Half Truth’ by Face To Face is out now on Dry Heave Records.
Words by Jay Sullivan.