Starting out “To Force A Fate” with a more powerful version of The Anniversary and Rilo Kiley, the vocals laid down by Elizabeth and Sean mesh together, even in some places (Bottle Rocket Battles) achieving one cohesive sound. The jangly, loud guitars belie some deep-seeded like of punk, and Steve’s playing on the disc does much to further this thought. Breaking out of the rigidity of the punk influence, tracks like “Follow-Through Time” work a much more traditional (think 19th-century American West) piano line with an earthy bass line to simultaneously raise the specters of Jaco Pastorius and Warren Zevon. The production of “To Force A Fate” is clear without being soulless, and the amount of layers to be found on this disc is astonishing, simultaneously pulling the listener in five or six different ways but holding them back enough to not miss the forest for the trees.
“Face It”, one of the more poppy tracks to be found on “To Force A Fate” has Elizabeth moving closer to a Letters To Cleo / Me First type of vibe, being catchy while still musically solid, primarily being aided by the masterful work of Joel’s bass. Moving to distance their voices, the slower-tempoed “The Lasting Effects” has an off-kilt dynamic between Elizabeth and Sean’s vocals, with Elizabeth’s aural embellishments being multiplied to beef up the sound of the track. In those brief interludes, specifically the ending of the track, the wispy hints of brass provide that vocal quality to truly finish off the track. Practically using everything but the kitchen sink on “To Force A Fate”, The Reputation even gets the opportunity to add a little white noise with sleigh bells, providing a diametric opposite, the rasp to Elizabeth’s smooth voice.
Placing together rough and tumble guitar riffs (think 70’s arena rock) with a melancholy violin, “Some Senseless Day” has an urgency to the music that only seems appropriate to Elizabeth’s vocals when ey lets the floodgates open during the chorus. The twin attack of violin and piano moves the penultimate track, “The Ugliness Kicking Around” into a place completely opposite from the title. In fact, this track is so beautiful, whether one listens to just the piano and violin intertwining melodiously during the first part of the track, Elizabeth’s Tori Amos-like vocals, or the increasing amount of chaos being insinuated into the track during the ending strains. A solid album, running the gamut of emotions and aural effects, never getting rote or cliché.
Rating :Bone-Tired, Face It
Rating : 8.0/10
The Reputation – To Force A Fate / 2004 Lookout! Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.reputationmusic.com / http://www.lookoutrecords.com / Reviewed 24 August 2004