Face To Face
No Way Out But Through
Fat Wreck Chords
Released: September 10, 2021
One of the best known Skate Punk bands, Face To Face, returns with their new record, No Way Out But Through.
Now thirty years down and ten albums in, Face To Face are back with their first new material since 2016’s Protection. In the five years between records, much has changed yet everything is also familiar. Of course, there was an album of acoustic renditions between Protection and the brand spanking new No Way Out But Through record – but we’re talking new compositions here.
Although No Way Out But Through is an enjoyable romp, it doesn’t come close to earlier Face To Face records such as their self-titled album, Big Choice or their incredible debut, Don’t Turn Away, which produced their best song, Disconnected – in my opinion anyway. There are moments that are really solid, and echo back to a time where Face To Face where in their prime. For the most part though, No Way Out But Through is a slowed down, less aggressive and dare I say it, more mature Face To Face. Like your friend that is still skating and well into his forties, and just rides longboards now, because he hasn’t got the knee cartilage left to rip a kickflip like back in the day.
That isn’t to say this is a geriatric version of the band we all know and love – not by any means. They have gravitated more towards the pop punk or rock on this record, but there are still moments that remain true to their back catalog. On songs like Black Eye Specialist, the first of twelve tracks on the new album, there is an undeniable Jawbreaker tone. Faster-paced, certainly, but the similarities are there. Great bass lines pop along the track, while some of the melodies are slightly reminiscent of later day Rise Against.
See Also : The Rumperts “Escapism” Review
On the title track, No Way Out But Through, we are treated to some more popping bass lines – and fact is this is a trend that is found throughout the record. Bassist Scott Shiflett really stands out on this record, be it on the bass or with his many Wooaahh-ahh-ooo backing vocals – and there a lot of them. Too many, I’d wager. Almost enough to rival an Anti-Flag record, in fact. Shiflett is the brother of Chris Shiflett, of the Foo Fighters, and is sometimes found plucking strings for Me First And The Gimmie Gimmie’s. Then again, at this point, who hasn’t played in the Gimmie Gimmie’s! Nahwhaddimean!
With A Miss Is As Good As A Mile, Face To Face come as close to their anthems of the past as possible, with an energetic and easy to sing along to chorus. Shiflett again rips it up on the four-string, while the guitar work is probably at the albums peek as well. More woah-ah-ooooh’s are found here. And everywhere, as I already alluded to. On Blanked Out, the boys sound pretty close to their older days, and in a very positive way. There’s still that Jawbreaker tone I spoke of, and to be honest, I dig it quite a bit. More woah-ahh-ooooh’s – are you starting to catch what I’m getting at yet?
The opening seconds of Ruination Here We Come are reminiscent, again, of Rise Against – but the track has a good message within its lyrics. Almost apologetic to the younger generations, although it’s more the baby boomer generations that should be owning that one. Regardless, the song itself is a good, melodic piece ripe with the woah-ahhh-oohh’s we’ve grown to love. More great bass lines, solid riffs – good tunes. On Spit Shine, a song about eventual change, Face To Face deliver a good, fun Skate Punk track with a bass passage that would make even Matt Friedman of Rancid pay attention. Shiflett really is the star on No Way Out But Through.
There have been rumored, that this will be the final release from Face To Face, and although there isn’t really any evidence to support this claim, given the way the album ends – it sure seems feasible. The clue just might well be the name of the twelfth and final track, Farewell Song. Where lead singer Trevor Keith sings “I guess this is goodbye” several times in succession. The song prior to that, too, hints at the end of the band – This Is My Vanishing Act. Of course, Face To Face broke up once before, only to reunited four years later in 2008. Upon their return, they released their first album in nine years, Laugh Now, Laugh Later, and No Way Out But Through is now their fifth record since the return.
Then again, maybe this is just the brain trying to justify rumors that have been flying about. If this is to be their last hurrah, they will be leaving behind quite a career and legacy. Like boxers; musicians often do not know when to call it a day. Hopefully this isn’t the end, but if it is, going on a record as strong as this one is, is probably a wise move. Punk bands never truly die though, and there will always be room for a return.
Pre-orders for No Way Out But Through are available through the Fat Wreck Chords website.
For Fans Of: Jawbreaker, Strung Out, Rise Against
01. Black eye Specialist
02. No Way Out But Through
03. A Miss Is As Good As A Mile
04. Blanked Out
06. Ruination Here We Come
07. Long Way Down
09. You Were Wrong About Me
10. Spit Shin
11. This Is My Vanishing Act
12. Farewell Song
Pros & Cons
- Great bass lines
- Solid melodies and song structure
- Ease up on the woah-ahh-ooh's!