New Jersey rock band Save Face released their full length debut, “Merci,” on July 13, delivering a solid throwback to the emo alternative-rock and pop-punk of the 2000s.
The band’s performances are punchy and polished across the album. On tracks like lead single, “Bad,” their combination of heavy guitars, basslines and drums captures the youthful feel of previous emo bands like Say Anything and Paramore.
Save Face displays their love and appreciation for the 2000s sound without becoming monotone. “Merci” contains some laid-back atmospheric gems. On tracks like “Pour,” the band pares back their instrumentation, replacing their heavy sound with soft organs, gentle bass and shimmering guitar arpeggios.
Lead vocalist Tyler Povanda often strains his voice with animalistic yelling, producing mixed results. On tracks like “Weak,” his vocals distract from the propulsive instrumentation instead of adding to it.
But on “Heartache,” Povanda delivers fantastic energy, boyish melodies and sweet backing harmonies, perfectly complimenting the track’s glorious instrumental. Soaring moments like this make up for his occasionally cringe-worthy yelling.
Throughout “Merci,” Save Face’s songwriting shines, although some tracks are disappointingly underdeveloped.
“Bad” and “Blues” are both bangers, but miss out on some of their potential by not including second verses and just repeating their choruses over and over. Both of those choruses are instant earworms, but the band could have improved both songs by developing them further.
But for every disappointing track, Save Face wrings every last bit of potential out of at least two others.
“Plans” begins with restrained guitars and a spacey chorus that later transform into soaring hooks. The stylistic shifts this track executes in less than three minutes are an absolute joy.
“Nothin’s” chord progression sounds soft and classy at first, almost like it should be coming out of a jukebox. After adopting a quiet indie-rock tone, that same progression closes out the song with crushing strums in between screeching feedback.
Save Face’s debut album is an accessible, diverse record with infectious energy. If you miss 2000s alt-rock, “Merci” is just for you.