The best and most confident album of their two-part career.
Mischa Pearlman 2010-05-17
It’s been 12 years since Sacremento’s Far released Water & Solutions, the last album before the band called it a day. Popular as their testosterone-fuelled post-hardcore was in the day, their influence has since increased vastly, so much so that their legend is now perhaps slightly disproportionate to their repertoire, their hooks and riffs and searching, soaring melodies outweighed by the many bands – including Thursday, Biffy Clyro and Jimmy Eat World – who cite them as an inspiration.
It’s taken two years since reforming for Far to emerge with this fifth album, but it’s not as if they’ve been silent in the interim. Frontman Jonah Matranga has recorded as Onelinedrawing, New End Original, Gratitude and under his own name, while the other three members have all written, recorded or produced music. It’s clearly had an effect. At Night We Live is the best and the most confident album of their two-part career. It is also, admittedly, more commercial-sounding, but there’s no shame in that if it’s done with integrity, dignity and passion.
It begins with the abrasive riffing of Deafening, with its almost Marilyn Manson-esque vocals and an ominous, jittery bassline, but the rest of the album is a wide and varied experience, full of subtleties and nuances that temper the pounding, roaring tunes. When I Could See flickers like a dying fire before a raging inferno of squalling guitars briefly bursts and then fades away, while Give Me a Reason, Are You Sure? and Burns are shimmering slices of tender yet bombastic rock. The Ghost That Kept on Haunting is a melancholy and sinister slowed-down finale, but it’s the title-track – written for Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who remains in a minimally conscious state after a car accident in November 2008 – that encapsulates all the pain and glory, strength and sadness, of this album, and Far as a whole, and one which brilliantly validates – and will surely increase – the status and legend that their decade-plus absence helped build up.
A bonus track of their faintly ridiculous take on Ginuwine’s Pony is the icing on this very tasty welcome back cake.