Face to Face - Laugh Now, Laugh Later (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Face to Face

Laugh Now, Laugh Later (2011)


It's interesting to look back and think about the bands that influenced your musical tastes. I grew up on a steady diet of everything from Guns N' Roses to Run DMC to Black Flag. Eventually I started to lean towards the "grunge" movement of the early '90s, and from the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and plethora of others, expanded to punk rock. Bad Religion, Rancid and NOFX were staples of the time, but I've always felt that Face to Face was the band that I not only "discovered" on my own, but ultimately most identified with. I picked up a copy of Big Choice after reading about in a magazine, and was instantly hooked. My fandom undoubtedly peaked during the release of their self-titled LP, which to this day I consider to be the soundtrack of my high school years.

The next few albums are the topic of many arguments over the years, and I won't go down that path. I will say I appreciate each in their own unique way and where I was at in life at that time.

The band announced their break-up in 2004, and almost 10 years later, Face to Face have reunited and released a new record, Laugh Now, Laugh Later. The opening track, "Should Anything Go Wrong" is fast-paced and reminiscent of the band's last effort, 2002's How to Ruin Everything, or maybe even their somewhat rare EP, 1994's Over It. Following is the record's first single, "It's Not All About You", a very catchy number with a very interesting twist. All of the classic F2F elements are there: driving melody and lots of "whoa"s and "hey"s. But then towards the end of the track is an interesting breakdown/transition. Instead of building down and then building back up, the melody drops completely, giving the false impression of a transition into another song (in a Green Day via Dookie and Insominiac kinda way). However, the buildup occurs into the familiar chords of the song, and all is well again.

One of the best elements of Face to Face has always been bassist Scott Shiflett. In terms of style, he's one of my favorite bassists of all time. The track "Bombs Away" reinforces my confidence in that statement, with its throbbing bass intro and overall heavily rhythmic emphasis.

The only song on Laugh Now, Laugh Later I haven't been able to get into is "What You Came For". Musically, it sounds like a leftover from the sessions for 1996's self-titled (a good thing), with vocalist Trevor Keith singing in a manner similar to Ignorance Is Bliss. To many, this may seem like a good combination, but it comes off somewhat awkward and disjointed.

Collectively, Laugh Now, Laugh Later is a record making a statement, without making a statement. It reaffirms everything I've loved about this band for so many years without rehashing the past or trying to reinvent the wheel. It's the kind of record that doesn't sound like a "reunion" album, but the next offering in a history of solid releases.