They Had Faces Then - 1977 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

They Had Faces Then

1977 (2011)


They Had Faces Then's 1977 EP starts with a lovely, forlorn riff that will invoke feelings of warm familiarity for fans of this style of alternative/indie rock. If you appreciate the pensive brood of bands like Balance and Composure or Manchester Orchestra somewhere in the Like a Virgin Losing a Child days, "Carter" should be right up your alley. While not necessarily sounding exactly like either of those bands, the band carry themselves through this opener with a similarly heavy head and heart.

"Something About Water", however, changes course a bit. The melodies are bolder and brighter, and the band has a more confident swagger, but you still get big waves of guitars and thoughtful, twinkling chords. "You Without Teeth", however, brings back the drama a bit courtesy of dynamically tense, Favorite Gentlemen-esque vocals (think small-time followers like the Devil and the Lion), and the way it transitions into this effortless jangle for a second is cool, although the production is kinda funky on that part for some reason. The post-rock-esque guitar sparkle toward the end is a nice touch, too.

The tone of "Anchors" makes it an appropriate, calmer centerpiece, while the band ramp up the energy for "You Shepard". Overall, this second half is less distinctive and gripping than 1977's front end, stocked with some more vague Biblical imagery, but it takes the EP out smartly and creatively enough to matter. Closer "Song 45" makes a better case for standing out, with vocals high in the mix and sung sharply, and versatile guitar tones smearing a compelling texture across it all, though it ends in a painfully abrupt, less-than-ceremonious fashion.

Despite some inconsistencies here and there, there's enough moments on 1977 that are curiously enjoyable, but also familiar in strong (and not necessarily derivative) ways. It warrants They Had Faces Then as a pretty promising act at this point in time.

1977 EP