Face To Face - Face To Face (Cover Artwork)

Face To Face

Face To Face (1996)


 Writing a proper introduction for a review of Face To Face, which is the third full-length record from Victorville, California punk rock greats Face To Face, is a bit challenging. Writing a review like a book report for the uninformed, or coming off as glib by not providing some baseline information (because you all should know right?), doesn’t provide the best reading material, so I will try and ride the middle. For all of you who may not know, Face To Face formed in the late 80’s by guitarist and vocalist Trevor Keith, bassist Matt Riddle, and drummer Rob Kurth, the band added second guitarist Chad Yaro in the following years becoming a four-piece. Following the release of Big Choice, bassist and contributing song-writer Matt Riddle exited the band, making Face To Face the first album that was primarily written by Trevor Keith; and what can I say? He did a fantastic job.

Face To Face gained some attention from their previous records, but their third release Face To Face took the band to the next level. The record featured the best recording quality of the band’s albums to date (1996 that is… and maybe later), as well as a slightly more radio friendly sound. The songs have an ability to maintain a punk rock edge, while having a rock and roll vibe that many of their peers couldn’t produce in quite the same way. Face To Face didn’t boast a goofy or gimmicky image, they took the speed and energy of skate punk and mashed it together with a Social Distortion influence that gave them a stand out quality amongst other California bands at the time, like The Voodoo Glow Skulls, Guttermouth and The Offspring.

Front to back Face To Face is an extremely strong album. There are few releases I enjoy as much from beginning to end as this one. All of the songs keep a fast punk rock pace with extremely catchy and memorable melodies and hooks. The material on this record comes off as significantly more serious than many other punk rock or skate punk bands of that time, which definitely helped Face To Face age as well as it has. Going back and listening to many of the records you enjoyed as a teenager can be a pretty cringe worthy experience, but Face To Face holds up. There are many current contemporary bands that are still trying, and at times failing, to write punk rock music as genuine and catchy as the songs from Face To Face.

I have a difficult time narrowing down a favorite song from this release, but I think I can pick a top three. The three stand out songs for me are “Walk The Walk”, “Complicated” and “Put You In Your Place”, all three songs are great musically, but more than that they are songs that are easy to connect with. Covering topics of triumph and failure, as well as relationships, they are songs that many can relate to and identify with. This album was a huge part of my teenage years, and listening back to these songs it is easy to understand why; the songs come off as sincere but not cheesy, which may sound trivial, but can be tough – anyone who likes pop punk can attest to this. On top of the fact that these songs are catchy, they are extremely well crafted musically. They manage to expertly blend the lines of punk rock, rock and roll, and pop, which is no easy feat in and of itself.

Face To Face may not have as much name recognition as a band like NOFX, and they may have had a few missteps in the following years, but they are just as important. They showed a generation of 90’s kids that punk rock isn’t all farts and partying (which is still important of course). I don’t, and come to think of it haven’t ever given a full 5 star rating for any record, but Face To Face will be my first. This record is solid punk rock from front to back, that has held up to the test of time. It was released in 1996 and still sounds awesome in 2016. It is difficult to review one of your favorite records without sounding like a redundant fan-boy, but this record and band deserve it – It doesn’t happen often, so enjoy it while you can.