Trever Keith “Melancholics Anonymous” (Self-Released)
For people who have followed Face To Face over the years, it sure is wonderful to hear the familiar vocals of Trever Keith once again. As the blitzkrieg of opening track “Cross Your Heart And Hope To Die” blasts from the stereo it feels like a warm embrace from a long lost friend. Melancholics Anonymous is Keith’s unfortunately titled solo debut. Thankfully, the album sheds the singer/songwriter tag, instead going for a full band approach the majority of the time.
It becomes apparent half-way through Melancholics Anonymous that the album owes a great deal to Face To Face’s most controversial release. The ill-received 1999 album, Ignorance Is Bliss, was the band’s attempt to move out of from under the melodic pop/punk constraints. The album was seen as a failure at the time by many fans. So much so that the band let the fans pick the songs for the next record which was sarcastically titled, Reactionary. Through the subsequent years though, Ignorance Is Bliss has won quite a few Face To Face fans over, including myself. And fans of that album and Face To Face in general should find a lot to love in finally hearing Keith again on Melancholics Anonymous.
If you study Face To Face’s excellent covers album, 2001’s Standards & Practices, you can really see where the band’s influences were birthed. On that album, the band covered artists as diverse as Jawbreaker and Fugazi to The Smiths and The Psychedelic Furs. On Melancholics Anonymous those influences become even more apparent. The hints of British pop are coated all over Keith’s solo debut. Perhaps the most telling cover of Standards & Practices is Sugar’s “Helpless.” Bob Mould who had previously fronted melodic punk band Hüsker Dü moved into more accessible waters with Sugar’s finely coated pop rock. Keith emulates that movement here as he settles into a successful groove of pop bombast mixed with brit-pop tenderness. It results in an album chock full of alt-rock nuggets.
Despite Face To Face’s recent reunion shows, Melancholics Anonymous prove that Trever Keith will be just fine when he finally decides to leave Face To Face completely in his past. Granted, if you never liked Face To Face then you might want to move on before you start. But, if you ever had a soft spot for the band then you should at least give Keith’s Melancholics Anonymous a try. It might just surprise you.
RIYL: Face To Face, Bob Mould, Samiam
Cross Your Heart And Hope To Die