It’s honestly quite surprising that this album is getting released in the first place. That’s not to say that Save Face’s Folly EP was bad, because that couldn’t be further from the truth, but the case with smaller, homespun emo bands like this is that, no matter how much acclaim their early material gets, they’ll rarely surface with much, if anything, to follow it up. Still, if there’s going to be one band to break that trend, it might as well be Save Face; they’ve already got Epitaph behind them to release this debut full-length, and if what their EP offered could be built up on a larger scale here, than Merci could indeed prove to be a worthy audition for more attention within the bigger branches of the emo scene.
It looks as if all the faith could come to fruition as well, because if there was an album that Save Face could make to pretty much guarantee them a seat at the table in future, it would be Merci. It’s not preoccupied with pondering existentialism or other such weighty subject matter, rather dishing out sharp, snotty bursts of emo that’s so easy to latch onto, and even easier to like. And yet, there’s still a bit of work to be done before Save Face can claim true greatness, namely that Merci as a whole doesn’t provide much in the way of substance, and with the majority of tracks just about clocking the three minute mark, a track like Bad feels a little too abortive, and the two separate interludes offer next to nothing in the way of meaningful content.
Then again though, Save Face are able to hit their streak thanks to quality over quantity. Tracks like Jonesin’ and Plans definitely fall into the Menzingers mould of equal parts immensely clever and catchy, but thanks to a more simplistic, direct writing style and the increased pliability in Tyler Povanda’s voice to throw the odd scream into the pot, there’s a quality here that’s already recognisable to Save Face alone. Even in the more delicate Pour with its breathy atmosphere and more considered composition, Save Face’s versatility already shows a band more than capable of widening the breadth of their sound for something surprisingly sturdy and fleshed out at this early stage.
It’s an incredibly back-to-basics approach, but one that sees Merci as a perfectly enjoyable if uncomplicated listen. There’s definitely room for Save Face to grow here, and that will no doubt welcome the wider the success for them that’s already on the horizon. It’s worth a listen for any emo fan, particularly when it’s such a quick and easy listen, but one that has enough quality in its hook-writing and composition to stick for a long time.
For fans of: The Menzingers, Have Mercy, Hot Mulligan
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Merci’ by Save Face is released on 13th July on Epitaph Records.