Face To Face – Laugh Now, Laugh Later (2011)

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Music

While my heart has always been with metal, there’s a part of my past that I can’t let go of, and that’s true punk rock. While the scene has slowed to a crawl the last 10 years or so, there have been a small handful of acts that try to keep the phenomena alive. Bad Religion had a decent release earlier in the year, Rancid is supposed to have an album out later this year, and NOFX continues to trudge away releasing albums and EPs at a regular pace.

Those bands, however, are considered legendary, and if they don’t have their own label to release their goods, they at least have handsome contracts with one label or another. Plus, it’s hard to imagine any of the punk bands I grew up on having much to say. In a scene that is driven by angst and anarchy, I imagine most of the bands from the 80s and 90s are more worried about their families, their 401ks and their aging bodies to get too riled up over the state of the world, religion or any of the other punk-apparent themes.

That said, you can imagine my surprise when I found out one of my absolute favorite bands from that era – Southern California’s Face to Face – had a new album on the horizon. While maybe not as popular as the aforementioned leaders of the scene, Face to Face, as well as others such as Pennywise, Lagwagon, No Use For a Name, and Guttermouth, were an integral part of the punk revival of the 90s. The band had released eight albums between 1992-2004 (at which time they disbanded), all of which were decent, including a couple of great ones (1992’s Don’t Turn Away and 2000’s Reactionary.) After reuniting in 2010 and taking stage on the Van’s Warped Tour last summer, a new album was rumoured for 2011, and has now come to reality. But the question remains. Could Face To Face deliver anything socially relevant to the punk rock scene ten plus years past their prime?

Laugh Now, Laugh Later – the band’s ninth release – answers that question with a resounding “kind of”…

To be fair, the band has always had a trademark sound of driving guitars and sing-a-long choruses that don’t lend itself well to diversity. In layman’s terms, Face To Face has always sounded – and always will sound – like Face to Face. That’s not a problem for a fan like myself, but for the “new” listener, there’s nothing going on here that isn’t being done better and with more energy elsewhere. While Green Day carries the flag as the lone remaining superstar from the 90s punk scene, bands like The Offspring – and unfortunately Face To Face – try with all their might to keep up with the pace. But it’s not a pace friendly to age and wisdom, and what ends up happening is that you get decent trips down memory lane that come off a bit disingenuous. Not to say that vocalist/guitarist Trever Keith isn’t still a punk, but you’d have a hard time convincing the youth of today that.

Keith even makes reference to it in the albums 7th track “I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter” which shows the frontman giving himself a fair assessment on his own relevance to the scene with lyrics like “I’m still here and I’m okay – doesn’t matter anyway. Guess I should be sorry, that you’d be the last thing on my mind.” To me, it sounds like a bit of a farewell from someone who knows what he meant to the scene, and has matured enough to walk away with his pride in check.

It’s this type of genius that has followed this band for the last 15 years, and if this is a swan song, at least they are going out with the guitars cranked up. The album isn’t bad by any stretch, but I doubt it has the muscle or originality to make any noise as far as reviving the near-dead scene. With so much attention on a new Blink-182 album this year (who in my opinion are no longer even punk), I don’t see much attention being given to this release.

Which is unfortunate. Fans of the band will no doubt appreciate the new tracks, and maybe that’s all Keith really wanted to do. Much of the album recaptures the “punk in a bottle” magic that made them fan favorites long ago, and I personally applaud ANYTHING from this band after so many lineup changes over the years. But if it’s “modern day punk revival” you seek, I would have to tell you to look elsewhere, as this one is strictly for the old-school, 40-something crowd. Which is just fine by me…

7/10

Tracklist:
01 – Should Anything Go Wrong
02 – It’s Not All About You
03 – The Invisible Hand
04 – Bombs Away
05 – Blood In The Water
06 – What You Came For
07 – I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter
08 – Stopgap
09 – All For Nothing
10 – Pushover
11 – Under The Wreckage

http://www.amazon.com/Laugh-Now-Later-Face/dp/B004VMX5YG/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1306194807&sr=1-1

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link

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