Trever Keith - Melancholics Anonymous
Record Label: Antagonist Records
Release Date: February 7, 2008 (digital)
"Hello, my name is Trever Keith, and I am a melancholic."
Personally, this quip should have been the introductory track on the longtime Face to Face vocalist's debut solo album, the aptly-titled Melancholics Anonymous. Here, Keith shelves his trademark skate-punk personality for an intimate, quieter version of himself. The record (released on Keith's own Antagonist label) features nearly a dozen tracks, all with their own unique identity. Driven by Keith's honesty, his deeply-personal vocal delivery and a wide array of electronic instruments, the album is truly one of the best solo debuts by a (criminally underrated) frontman. Face to Face was always a bit brighter than most of their peers while coming up on the Warped Tour scene in the 90's, and they were rarely rewarded for it by the public. Such a shame, too, because it is quite evident that Keith is the right guy for the job in his role as singer and songwriter.
As sort of a mesh of Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Ken Andrews (Failure, On, Year of the Rabbit), Keith builds his songs around a drum machine and vocal effects commonly found on alternative albums in the late 1980's. These effects only add to the album, giving every track its own distinct personality and being a worthy demonstration for Keith's restrained vocals. "Pushover" is really the only track here that reminds of Face to Face, and "Half Asleep" is an effective ballad that keeps a steady rhythm and synth-piano in the background. The candid acoustic number "Absolution" allows Keith's vocals to shine as does "Polish," which would be a perfect choice for a single - it's a modern-day Smiths song with Keith's trademark rasp highlighting the song.
As lush and beautiful as it all is, there are some striking similarities to the influences Keith has been inspired by. "Say Goodbye Again" has a jangly guitar rhythm straight from the Cure and "Bleeding Out" breaks wide open in the middle to reveal a Reznor-like angst hidden inside of these tunes ("Incommunicado" does this to much better results). The title track, a moody acoustic number, has hints of Eddie Vedder shining throughout, with Keith's vocals dipping into that deep emotion the Pearl Jam frontman can often do. Honestly, it works for Keith's style - however, it can become distracting at times. Yet the songs are all so intoxicating, it sure is difficult to be hypnotized by the lovely and quite charming change in technique from this SoCal punk icon.
Confidence exudes from each and every cut here, despite the hesitation in the lyrics that Keith has written. It's quite perplexing to hear some of these words come from such a stellar vocal talent who presents an album that sounds as if he sung each note with his head on high. Each track is, in a way, about redemption: "I will pull myself together / I will come up with a plan / It's almost like I never even took a single step / I thought that I was getting somewhere I hadn't even left / I'll be OK, I will be saved," he sings on the title track. "I'm only halfway come undone / A sting that hasn't stung, But waiting..." he painfully reinstates on closing number, "Shine Box," a song that is about holding on to the faith you cherish, one that makes you human.
The sorrow and the pity is definitely there, but for good reason: Keith is grown up, going through all the mature struggles we will one day reach as middle-aged adults and he gives himself a canvas that is used to his full advantage, never stepping over lines he's already drawn for himself. Melancholics Anonymous is heartfelt, painfully intimate and contains songs about belief, acceptance and the will to make one better. Living with yourself is difficult enough, yet somehow, Keith makes this easy to understand and come to grips with. You can never be perfect, and Keith knows that - but he gives more than enough reasons to accept it and carry on in a bigger and better way.
If anyone is into his solo stuff at all check out Ignorance Is Bliss; by far the best facetoface record! It's truly a shame that most facetoface fans had tunnel vision back when it came out. This band could have been even more legendary if they continued on that path; or if their fans allowed them to instead of booing them while touring on it.
truly a great CD. luckily I found out about this before he did his first solo tour, so I got to see him in Massachusetts at the Middle East. Trever is truly one of the nicest guys I have ever met in the music business. not enough people knew about Face To Face, and probably not enough people will know about this CD. glad to see it get a review on here. it's only 5 bucks through his website too. well worth it. go get it people.