Face To Face

Protection

Written by: PP on 07/04/2016 23:42:31

California punk veterans Face To Face have been around the block for quite some time now. Forming in 1991 and releasing debut album "Don't Turn Away" back in 1992, they were a household name in melodic punk through the glory years of the 90s, releasing multiple would be classics with "Face To Face", "Ignorance Is Bliss" and "How To Ruin Everything" before fading away into a hiatus for the majority of the 2000s. I say would be, because Face To Face were unfortunate in having seen their glory years amidst the respective musical peaks of the likes of Lagwagon and NOFX, whose releases far eclipsed the otherwise solid output by the Cali punks. Nevertheless, these releases form the cornerstone in Face To Face's status as an upper-middle tier punk level band playing the late slots at punk rock festivals even in 2016.

The 2011 comeback album "Laugh Now, Laugh Later" was an excellent revitalization of the band alongside 2013's "Three Chords And A Half Truth", because they showcased the band in a different light from the 90s: now grown up, mature and laid back, sounding more like a Social D and Hot Water Music combo than the fast paced skate punk of the 90s years.

Enough background. For their 9th full-length "Protection", Face To Face 180 back to the 90s melodic punk and skate punk sound, relying on an overload of woo-hoo vocal patterns and cleaner guitars. It's a noticeable shift towards a more polished sound akin to Millencolin post-"Home From Home" era, with some songs being indistinguishable from the Swedish skate punk legends. "Fourteen Fifty-Nine" and "Keep Your Chin Up", in particular, echo a similarly melancholic, alternative rock-based skate punk soundscape, much like "Say What You Want" did earlier. That said, the band load the expression with 90s no-bullshit punk as well, going for the clean vocal driven shout-out-loud punk in the vein of H2O as the contrast to the Millencolin style mid-tempo songs.

But in between these two styles, "Protection" is predictable. It's exactly how career punk albums sound like when the band members don't have the same fire and drive as they did during their 20s. Aside from the highlights that seem to be primarily stacked towards the second half of the album, the record is pretty bland without being able to point at any particularly annoying aspect of it: it just sounds like melodic punk played on autopilot. With twenty years separated from their last genre classic (1996's "Face To Face"), it's perhaps inconceivable to expect anything more than that, but going reactionary on their own sound certainly makes "Protection" feel weaker than last two albums for sure, lacking in inspiration despite a few great tunes sandwiched in between.

Download: Say What You Want, Fourteen Fifty-Nine, Keep Your Chin Up
For the fans of: H2O, Millencolin, The Bouncing Souls
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.03.2016
Fat Wreck Chords

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