SoCal punk band Face To Face broke up in 2004, but for some fans, the band essentially ended with 1999’s Ignorance Is Bliss, a disastrous turn away from signature melodic punk toward mid-tempo, Foo Fighters-esque rock. Face To Face returned to form on two subsequent full-lengths (and an inessential covers album), though it never seemed to recover fully. Yet four years after breaking up, the band reunited, initially without plans to record new material.
It’s telling that the band’s current tour—behind the new Laugh Now, Laugh Later, its first album since 2002’s How To Ruin Everything—focuses on its first three albums, excepting a song from How To Ruin and the new album. “It’s Not All About You,” “All For Nothing,” and “Should Anything Go Wrong,” the standouts from the new one, fit well into the current set of fan favorites. “It’s Not All About You” and “Should Anything Go Wrong” are vintage Face To Face, with slightly snotty lyrics, big choruses, and huge-sounding guitars. “All For Nothing” is a bit of a departure, with guitarist-vocalist (and sole original member) Trever Keith pushing his vocal range a bit in a bittersweet song about the sacrifices made for love. The genuine sentiment of “All For Nothing” provides a sharp contrast to “I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter,” a numbingly generic song buried in the middle of the album that shows Face To Face isn’t above autopilot, even on its first album in nearly a decade. The chorus “I’m still here and I’m okay / doesn’t matter anyway,” is only missing a “guess there’s nothing left to say / just walk away” to fit the band's typical lyrical template.
The rest of Laugh Now, Laugh Later thankfully doesn’t sound so tossed-off, but it isn’t especially memorable, either. Longtime fans may still find plenty to enjoy; Laugh Now, Laugh Later has all the elements that have worked for the band in the past, and it’s a solid addition to the discography. But Face To Face probably won’t need to make more room in its set for other songs from this album.