Face to Face [A&M]

by: Face to Face

Riding a wave of popularity just about to crest, Face to Face released this self-titled disc for A&M Records in 1996. Although their fourth release, Face to Face, is the first that did not contain the alt radio smash "Disconnected." The single "I Won't Lie Down" more than fills the vacancy left by the ultra-catchy "Disconnected" and even generated intense -- but brief when compared to its predecessors' -- airplay of it's own. Singer/guitarist Trevor Keith's songwriting prowess reaches its highest level without compromising the band's speedy aesthetic. Rhythms shift through manic turns as Keith and co-guitarist Chad Yaro double up on punk power chordings just before splitting apart into expansive counterparts. All the velocity of earlier Face to Face recordings is there, along with some additional musicality courtesy of new bassist Scott Shiflet. Using the same deliberate attack as his predecessor Matt Riddle, Shiflet took the space afforded him and expanded it tremendously -- becoming the first consistent songwriting contributor other than bandleader Keith. Always one to plainly state his frustrations with humanity, Trevor Keith's lyrics can come off spiteful and over-serious when compared to more successful '90s "punk" artists (led by Blink-182) who co-opted his speed-plus-melody concept. Spicing up their tunes with frat-boy double entendre or just outright teen pandering, these lesser artists were laughing all the way to multi-platinum celebrity, while Face to Face remained true to their stoic traditionalism. Keith's penchant for lyrical misanthropy -- perhaps too true to the punk form -- might have stifled the once inevitable ascension into the modern rock stratosphere that Face to Face seemed destined for. The last release before a three-year period of business adjustments and creative rethinking, Face to Face is an excellent purchase for new fans interested in hearing the band at their peak level of punk performance. ~ Vincent Jeffries

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