Gameface – Always On

Always On

I’ve never been the biggest Gameface fan, to be honest, although I’ve heard a lot of their music over the past decade or so. There’s always been something about their sound that said to me: “Yes, we grew up in Orange County, Calif., and we’re supposed to be punk, but we’re really radio-friendly rock.” They distinguished themselves through their lyrics, which were always emotional and very strong, but their music and their very mainstream vocals didn’t jive with me.
That’s why I’m surprised at how much I like Always On. The Gameface style is still here. These are just slightly punkish rock songs that blast ahead with killer riffs, strong vocals, and radio-friendly style. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard this tight band sound any tighter, and while some songs still disturbingly remind me of the Matchbox 20 style of rock, some are much harder and some even gentler. Then again, this album also reminds me why that radio style of rock is so popular and why I liked it when it was modern rock a few years ago: because it’s catchy and powerful and fun. That sums up Gameface’s music.
Some of these songs remind me of Gameface’s roots. “The Warmest Heart Attack,” for example, is a seriously rocking track that reminds me, thankfully, much more of Samiam than the radio stars that the band used to remind me of. And the chorus is just damn pretty. Things get a little more gentle on “Angels on the Wing” without losing their rock, and while the lyrics reminds me of a Creed song, the guitar here kicks ass. “Balance” shows off a kinder, gentler, more melodic side of the band, and “Anyone Can Write a Song” is so damn infectious it reminds me a bit of the Replacements. “Robots” again shows off the louder, more punk-rock side of the band, with some crunchy guitars and more biting vocals. And to contrast, “Accidental Clarity” is practically a ballad for this band, light and almost breezy. “The Problem with Me” is even more consistently slower, and its only fault is that it should have acoustic guitar rather than electric. The album finishes with “Awkward Age,” which starts off reminding me of a harder Sugar song, and although it drops off into traditional Gameface realm, the guitar is still pretty damn good.
So Gameface still doesn’t fill my desire for kick-ass punk, hardcore, or emo, but they do fall somewhere in the middle. Their vocals seem a bit cheerfully and unappologetically mainstream, but this is a style that has worked for the band for years. These songs show off the band getting lighter at moments and heavier at others, and the lyrics are always quite good. Not a bad showing from these perennial rockers.