Far - At Night We Live
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Record Label: Vagrant
Even if you swear you have never heard Far's music before, you have. In the twelve year span between 1998's Water & Solutions and their "reunion" album At Night We Live, their post-hardcore influence has been apparent in everyone from Jimmy Eat World to Deftones to Thursday. Jonah Matranga, the band's unmistakable voice, has dabbled in a handful of new projects over the years, each with their own distinct identity and success. So, after all this time... what's next? Tough question to answer, especially when your band last recorded something during the Clinton administration.
Yet when it comes to exuberant returns, you'd be hard-pressed to push Far away and tell them their time has expired. At Night We Live sees the original band who influenced a lot of today's heavier bands with a knack for tight, aggressive melody picking up where they left off. Truth be told, it never feels completely on-target, however it's hardly inept - just a touch disjointed. For every minor imperfection, listeners are rewarded with boosts of adrenaline from the bludgeoning opening track "Deafening" and breakneck "Dear Enemy." Matranga stills packs a brutal punch with every word he wraps his lips around, never ceasing to be the centerpiece to what makes this sound a vocalists playground. The band sounds utterly confident and powerful, like a leopard cutting across a field to feast on a springy antelope; no pause, no questions - just inescapable thirst for aggression and passion.
The title track, a song written about a dream Matranga had regarding Deftones bassist Chi Cheng's comatose state, is as brilliantly chilling as one could imagine. "I dreamt of your eyes. They weren't just open, they were engaged," he sings, with an echo of hope touching down upon such lingering pain & anguish. It is moments like these that Far excels at, and one that unfamiliar listeners can certainly come to recognize, as they witness the original Rat Pack of post-hardcore do what they do best. Yet even with such emotionally stirring moments as that, the band pecks at the modern pop-punk sound with "Better Surrender" and the blistering "Burns," two tracks that sound like Futures-era Jimmy Eat World on overdrive. Their cover of Ginuwine's"Pony" is smoldering with sex appeal and wildcat lust, something you won't often find in a rock song. It's the sort of thing Nickelback or Shinedown would do to be ironic, but come across as painfully laughable, while Far passes the grade in part due to Matranga's tight-lipped crooning. Plus, way to replicate that "burp" sound without making me feel sick!
The faults of the begrudgingly straightforward "Are You Sure" and "The Ghost That Kept on Haunting," the latter appearing to force out an opus-y, atmospheric closer, are smaller than what makes the album succeed as a whole. It's the last few moments that see the band trying (or perhaps not trying) to be who they used to be - when they rip out punching-bag riffs and firehose-pressure anthems, you sense the unity and confidence each member provides. Shaun Lopez, the band's guitarist, is a craftsman behind the boards, really opening up the production to allow every member their own space. The drums and bass sound rich and deep, and Matranga is better than ever, as one of the truly spectacular vocalists in modern rock.
Now that you've received your history lesson and can see what makes Far so familiar and influential, time to do some homework you might actually learn a thing or two from.
Might not hear Deftones at first, but it might surprise people just how much both bands replicate and influence one another without making it too apparent.
Deftones was never a big band of mine. It's one that I couldn't even realize why AP.net liked.
But these guys seem very interesting. I can't even classify them. They aren't really metal, or radio rock, or alternative. Or post hardcore. or anything.
Never listened to them, but I've heard people mention that before. Just never heard them myself.
Biffy Clyro are progressive alt. rock and sound a lot like the Foo Fighters. The track "If You Cared Enough" on this album reminded me a lot of one of Biffy's songs on their album Puzzle. If you like Far, you'll proly like them too. But I'm liking Far a lot more so far. Reviews like this make me give new (to me) bands a chance. I'll be buying this soon.