Sound — 9
I must make two points/divulgences/disclosures here. First, Far are one of my favorite bands ever. I even have a tattoo that has lyrics from the band's 1998 release, Water & Solutions, incorporated into a tattoo hat I have. The album is near-perfect in my eyes. Second, while many shoe-gazing, eyeliner-slathered, whiny emo bands claim Far as influence, the band takes no credit (or blame, depending on who you ask) for authoring that scene. That said, following up something I love as much as Water & Solutions was a tall order. I was preparing to be disappointed when the band got back together, only because I hold their last album in such high esteem. I am happy to report that my low expectations were exceeded tenfold. Despite a decade-plus break, the band still had it. The tension between singer Jonah Matranga and guitarist Shaun Lopez and really, lead singer/guitarist tension is what defines some of the greatest relationships and output in the rock pantheon- is still there and it's what authors the push and pull in the music. On At Night We Live, Far merge the quiet and the loud, displaying their love of Radiohead as proudly as their love of Deftones and Quicksand. Album opened "Deafening" is one of the heaviest Far songs ever, with a chunky, thunderous roar of a riff that asserts itself throughout, while "Give Me a Reason" satisfies both the pop and rock craving. "Dear Enemy" snarls with a gnarly riff, while the title song is an expansive, broad and utterly pretty ode. "Better Surrender" is another power pop moment that's dosed with the perfect amount of rawk. Raaawr.
Lyrics — 10
Matranga mostly sings and sometimes screams, but his lyrics are clever, insightful and always relatable. He turns phrases like "I've got no time for the big, big wait" while "Dear Enemy" is nearly scathing in its addressing his issues with someone else, but never gets vicious, as he asks, "Why do we fight like this?" The title track boasts the line, "In the daytime we're dead, but at night we live." It's these types of phrasings which are simple on the surface, but peel back the layers and read the rest of the context of the lyrics and they're smart and speak to you. Matranga is similar to Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Deftones' Chino Moreno and Quicksand's Walter Schreifels in his delivery; it's impassioned and strikes a nerve every time.
Overall Impression — 9
Again, if you like the quiet-loud, The Deftones, At the Drive-In, Thursday, heavy with melody and emotion-spiked rock that is never whiny like so many bands in the emo scene, then you gotta love Far. No, I'm not (and never will) calling them an "emo" band because they are so much more. Sure, they may have influenced an entire generation of those bands, Far never fit in any sort of box, which so many of those bands do. They remain an anomaly what band can cover Ginuwine's R&B sex romp "Pony" and make it not sound like an R&B sex rompand that is their biggest strength. This is a contender for #1 on my Top 10 of 2010 list. Listen close. It might be on yours.