CD review: Face to Face, Protection

The Cali punk act's ninth full-length finds it back in fine form.

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It's been three years since SoCal stalwarts Face to Face have graced us with a new record; thanks to Protection, we're better for the wait. From the opening salvo of “Bent Not Broken,” which once again cements the recurring Face to Face theme of Don't Give Up (see also “Keep Your Chin Up”), through Scott Shiflett's gorgeous bass work on "Say What You Want," this is a record both old and new fans will be able to embrace.

Singer/guitarist Trever Keith has not lost a step when it comes to belting out anthemic, relatable lyrics, nor has he shied away from telling us what sucks about society. "14:59," for example, laments our obsession with "reality" TV. But these aren't the snotty, snarky jabs from some jaded hipster. After 25­ years fronting f2f, Keith's lyrics are mature, angry, and weary. He's seen it, dealt with it, and is still pissed. This, of course, is happening over melodies that have you at least tapping your foot along, and at best with your first in the air singing along.

And that, at its heart, is what Protection really is: the quintessential road trip record. It's fun, catchy, demands to be played loud, and can put you in that wonderful headspace where the music takes precedent over everything else. Try it. Don't crash.

Critics' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

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