Face to Face Three Chords and a Half Truth

Face to Face Three Chords and a Half Truth
5
Face to Face are very good at being Face to Face. Their mix of lightning fast power chords, catchy hooks and sing-along choruses was the epitome of the Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords sound of the mid-'90s (even if they only ever released one album on either of those labels). Yet throughout their career, the California pop-punkers have seen fit to mess with the formula, usually with less than stellar results. It's a little disconcerting to see the band make their biggest stylistic change this deep into their career, especially coming on the heels of comeback LP Laugh Now, Laugh Later. Three Chords is more of a rock'n'roll record than a punk one, filled with chugging half-time tunes accented by organ and Trever Keith's trademark sing/shout vocals. For the most part, it works, but while Face to Face are very good at being themselves, they're just okay at being whatever it is they're trying to be here. Gone is the crackling energy the band built their name with, while Keith feels like the only one firing on all cylinders here. It's fair that a group would want to flip-the-script 20-plus years in, but that doesn't mean we need to keep listening. (Rise)