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How to Ruin Everything is Face to Face's reflection piece. The bandmembers take a look back on what made them love punk rock in the first place and churn it into an infectious disposition. They spent the 1990s fighting against the mainstream and through various personal and professional shifts inside the band, and How to Ruin Everything emerges as Face to Face's strongest material to date. Frontman Trever Keith is fierce, and his songwriting is now shaped into something courageous and meaningful. He and bandmates bassist Scott Shiflett and drummer Pete Parada ignore current punk-pop sounds for a gnarling rock growl.
While many mainstream punk bands put up an image that they exist outside the system of corporate rock, Face to Face proved when putting together Reactionary that they are, in fact, just as keyed into the marketing process as the boy bands. According to the liner notes, 16 tracks were posted on the Internet and fans voted for the best songs, 12 of which appear on this album. Kind of like a year 2000 equivalent of the Pizza Parlor Jury. The songs are rather typical hardcore punk, certainly not ranking up with the band's best material.
Punk revivalism may incite a brash attitude and a sour disposition, but there is also a soft spot. It's not always about angst and rebellion. There's a passionate side too. SoCal punkers Face to Face tone down their skate punk snarl for an intriguing set of covers on Standards and Practices, kissing the hands of those '80s new wave/indie rock/punk bands that came before them. The band picked their own favorite tunes, paying tribute to bands such as the Smiths, the Pogues, Jawbreaker, the Ramones, and the Pixies. Standards and Practices is raw and vibrant, and the underlying power behind their own versions also exudes the excitement found in the original songs and escapes the repetitiveness found on most compilations.
There's no arguing his sincerity when Trever Keith bellows "I don't want this to end!" to finalize Three Chords and a Half Truth. Face to Face started in the early '90s, opening for bands like the Offspring and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and yet they continue to go strong. After a few minor road bumps, for the 2010s they have managed to release an album every year, and for their 2013 outing the energy is still fully intact. Aside from some weightier production, there isn't much to separate the sound of the band from the early days, and that's a good thing.