Face To Face are a punk band, formed in Victorville, California in 1991 when their original run lasted till 2004. They got back together in 2008 and I got to see these guys supporting the Dropkick Murphys in Newcastle. They won me over with their no-nonsense performance which blew me away, I did not know anything about them beforehand and I thank my friend Mark Watson for making sure we saw them (he is a massive fan, something I can understand). This album was released in March 2016; it is their ninth studio album and was released on the legendary Fat Werk Chords label. It has been on the list to review, was ready to publish and was then one of the first review I had to re-committed to paper, due to the ongoing fuck up’s getting my laptop back (fuck you Currys/PC World). So, without much further ado, time to review 'Protection'.
01 - Bent But Not Broken
As with every Face To Face album, they start off with a fast, blistering number that sets up the scene with the ease. It is looking at the state of the world and being in the pursuit of truth, honesty and how there is a lot of bullshit and so many liars out there (look at the political landscape of the world). It is fast paced, US punk with a sing a-long Owwww-Owwww-O in the hook, some great bass & guitar work and drumming to match, a great opening track.
02 - I Won't Say I'm Sorry
'I Won't Say I'm Sorry' starts off with a heavy rumble and then it is full speed punk as they hit their collective groove, which is mixed in well with some passionate lyrics about not being sorry for your actions after someone has been a little bit of a shit, but you are the one who is getting grief. It is more fast paced punk, hitting all the right notes and the chorus is just so catchy.
03 - Doubled Cross
I am sensing a theme here of betrayal and backstabbing as 'Doubled Cross' is another anthem for the wronged and a cathartic release for everyone who has had to deal with this type of situation. It is another song that has more energy than anyone has the right to contain in one track, it is one of those numbers which makes me smile, even though the subject matter is not a pleasant one. Definitely one of the best songs on the album.
04 - See If I Care
Now we are acting all tough and feeling apathy on this song, it is all about being spent, empty and having nothing else to give when everything is said and done. It has attitude in the right places, but is it all for show here? I am not the right person to judge on that score, but I can say that the music is cut from the same cloth as the first three and it is just as good - the quality is being kept at a high tempo here.
05 - Say What You Want
The pace is slowed down slightly here, if only to fast just so the drummer does not keel over and need a cup of tea. I think that this song is dropped at the right place, otherwise it would go the same way that albums by Pennywise and Hatebreed so often do - never changing course or dropping the speed. It is still a great punk song that you can move around to, but it is not at maximum speed and that is a good trick to have up your sleeves.
06 - Protection
The title track of the album which again goes for a different sort of attack, asking for someone to help someone who has no control of themselves and needs a certain degree of protection, but it is these actions that are turning the other person away. I like this song, it is a solid number that does enough to warrant being the title track, it has a good hook in the chorus and keeps the party bouncing along.
07 - Fourteen Fifty-Nine
Not sugar coating it at all on this number, 'Fourteen Fifty-Nine' just goes for the jugular and does not let go, it has a riff that just keeps on giving whilst that band pound out a steady song that sounds. Once again it is a solid number that sounds good for what it is, it has those drops that make you feel all excited and a sing-along chorus - simple and effective.
08 - It Almost All Went Wrong
This song about getting back on an even footing, about not being satisfied with your lot and wanting more. Sadly, each album always has a song you are not too bothered with and this is the track on this album. But it is not a bad track or worse that the other tracks on here, it is just one that I am not too fussed about either.
09 - Keep Your Chin Up
This is a positive song about never letting the world getting you down, keeping everything together and proving the bastards wrong. The message alone would make this song an anthem for many people, it is just as well it is wrapped up in some great punk rock and makes your spirits rise. What a fantastic song with a great message for the world.
10 - Middling Around
Fast paced punk, with a melodic chorus and some great hooks thrown in for good measure. Another solid number, not changing my world but certainly making it a brighter place just for being in it which pretty much says all it needs to say in a short period of time.
11 - And So It Goes
And this album ends how it began - a fast, blistering number that picks up the pace and does not wait for anyone. A song about giving everything that you can, not being able to give anymore but have the grace to point out that you have done all that you can. It is exactly what you would expect from this band, it is solid and dependable for making a room come alive whilst it is being played and bounces towards the exit with a swagger and dignity that is befitting the band - they ask what is left to say in the lyrics of this song, I think that is a great place to end this review.
If it ain't broke, why try to fix it? That is what I love about some bands and crave other bands to change, because in the right circumstance a band finds their style and that is where they perform at their best. You would not want a band like AC/DC to suddenly release a Bowie-esque fashion, pop morphing record, you would not want Nick Cave to release an album of Norwegian Death Metal growls and you would not want Face To Face to release anything than a good, honest punk rock album that is full of energy, passion and has a bucket load of tunes to make you bounce around like a jumping bean. I have used the words solid, honest, dependable and fast paced a lot here, that is because that is what this album is all about, it is nothing more than a good and honest punk album. Whilst it is not one that is reinventing the wheel, it is also one that is not trying to be anything other than your favourite punk record of the year. Whilst it might not be my album of the year, it is definitely amongst the best punk releases of 2016.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top track - I Won't Say I'm Sorry
You can purchase Protection from Amazon here.
You can also purchase Protection from the Face To Face Bandcamp page here.
You can visit the Face To Face website here.
You can follow the activities of Face To Face on Facebook here.
You can stream Protection on Spotify here.
You can stream Protection on Deezer here.
You can stream Protection on Tidal here.