Pop Punk Season
Even though it’s still snowing in a few places, Spring is in the air and that can only mean one thing: it’s pop punk season. The time for rolling down your windows and blasting some breakdowns is upon us and accompanying the seemingly endless stream of new, young kids playing their hearts out about pizza, their friends and their hometown is the handful of bands that you haven’t thought about since high school (which was longer ago than you’d like to remember) putting out something new hoping to rekindle all your teenage feelings.
This year, one of those bands is Face to Face with their newest record, the third since their reunion in 2008, Protection. Considering it’s been nearly 25 years since its release, no one would be expecting Protection to sound like their 1992 debut Don’t Turn Away, which sounds far more like the more posi hardcore of its era than the band in its current state. In fact, the record is arguably even poppier than Laugh Now, Laugh Later, which came out in 2011 on the heels of their reunion and the replacement of drummer Pete Parada (of Offspring and Saves the Day fame) with Material Issue’s original drummer Danny Thompson.
Things sound more polished, the audio quality is certainly better, and you can tell that they’ve all advanced as musicians since the 90s, but its up to listeners (especially long time fans) to decide whether that all adds up to something better…or even as good as Face to Face 20 years ago. Certainly songs like “Fourteen Fifty-Nine” and closer “And So It Goes “ are catchy enough to get stuck in your head for a while afterward you finish the record, but they get muddled by tracks like the watered down and nearly radio rock reminiscent “Say What You Want.”
Who knows, if they had stuck to their rougher, more hard-edged sound this review may been focused on wondering why the heck these guys hadn’t grown up in two decades, but instead one might be left wishing they hadn’t grown up quite so much. And if they were going to succumb to aging and polishing, couldn’t they have done something more interesting than Protection? Even H20 is starting to run out of steam and with so many wild things happening in punk, what is there to care about with this release?