2016 sees the 25th anniversary of melodic punk rockers Face to Face and their return to Fat Wreck Chords for the release of eleventh studio album ‘Protection’. As experienced campaigners they obviously know their way around a melody, so another competent album of well delivered tunes it is then.
If it’s an innovative ground-breaking record pushing the boundaries of punk rock that you’re looking for, this is the wrong place. What you get is eleven songs that do pretty much as expected; as they say on upbeat opener ‘Bent Not Broken’, “some things will never change”.
Face to Face proceed to go through all the punk motions on these similarly-paced songs stacked with “whoa-ohs” and catchy choruses. ‘Double Crossed’ is particularly poppy, driven along by an upfront bass line with some nice fills thrown in; Scott Shiflett more than earning his keep with similarly fine work on ‘See If I Care’ and ‘Say What You Want’.
However, many tracks rock along in similar vein whilst reflecting on the uphill battle of life. There’s a definite air of sticking to the rules and a number of songs follow precisely the same format, ‘It Almost All Went Wrong’ and ‘Keep Your Chin Up’ being particularly disposable, the latter being the fourth to include a “whoa-oh” and didn’t we hear that melody earlier?
The stand-out tracks depart from the formula and turn the aggression up a notch. The critique of reality stars of ‘Fourteen Fifty-Nine’ is angrier and boasts a rasping riff, while the bass driven ‘Middling Around’ thrashes about effectively. The slightly heavier feel to ‘I Won’t Say I’m Sorry’ also works.
On the whole though, this is really a record for the fans as it’s the sound of an experienced band doing exactly what they do best and sticking to what they know.
‘Protection’ by Face to Face is released on 4th March on Fat Wreck Chords.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)