The Lassie Foundation: Face Your Fun (Northern Records, 2004)

by Jason

Lassie FunThere are those albums that we encounter that bring us back to our youth. This happens to be one of those albums for me. The Cure, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, Big Country: these are the bands of my youth. Lassie captures the essence of the 80’s and updates it for today. Face Your Fun is energetic, fun, and catchy. It is indie-pop at its best. What is more is that the musicianship is fantastic. Campuzano brings his signature bass work to this disc along with Happy‘s subtle use of the vibraphone. Shroeder‘s guitar is soaring and perfect with Everett‘s percussion and his vocals. Everett has definitely grown as a vocalist and shows his growth with powerfully effective vocals.

“Don’t Stop Your Heart” is a great pop song with driving percussion and guitar. It is apparent from the very first note of Face Your Fun that Lassie has re-created or re-visited a grand 80’s sound. “Heart” is one of those fantastic pop songs with powerful music and melancholy lyrics. Like Loquat, they are masters at catchy music with a sadder message. Having heard it from Everett, the song is about a youth who deals with a bad relationship with his father and how that plays out in his life. It’s evident that the son is looking to find out how to love his father in spite of their damaged relationship. Following “Heart” is “Sunset.” A song that references the “bands of the past” from the get go and really has a driving 80’s song complete with key boards and high hat driven percussion. As it is with many of Everett‘s lyrics, he references his need for music to keep him alive. The guitar sound on this album is huge, recalling Echo and the Bunnymen mixed with a bit of Big Country.

“You’re Just Lucky” changes the pace of the album a bit and brings in a bit more melancholy feel. Campuzano plays exquisite bass on this song with subtle, shimmery guitar accenting Everett‘s perfect vocals. “Lucky” seems to echo a theme that is running throughout the disc, that of getting older and following one’s dreams through music and love. This song shows definite influence from Echo and the Bunnymen; yet, Lassie just makes this genre their own. It’s always amazing to find a band that can go back to a sound from their youth and really make it fresh, and Lassie has done this with spades. “Blow It Away” is a very catchy anthem about believing about love. “Take off your sober dynamite/you can blow it away/and forget all the bad times/you can blow it away and remember the good times” sings Everett. This song not only captures that grand 80’s sound, but it also captures that 80’s optimism that our culture enjoyed during that decade before Nirvana and Pearl Jam brought their pessimism to the table.

“Money Money” is a guitar driven song with catchy hooks and lyrics that really comment on our culture and its priorities. Here, the bad side of “Money” is displayed. Everett sings “can’t somebody appease the greedy beast of our days.” The character in the song that has come upon such a huge amount of cash is told to “make the balance right” and basically use the money he has attained for the betterment of others. Another aspect of this album that is incredible is Everett‘s vocals. Honestly, I didn’t think that his perfect vocals could get any better, but this is certainly his best vocal performance to date. He seems a seasoned singer and he encapsulates the energy of this disc. It is obvious that the band really enjoyed making this disc and it comes out in all of their performances and the unity of the compositions. “Face Your Fun” seems very autobiographical for some of the members of the band. This song, as in “Lucky,” has the theme of growing of old and trying to keep one’s dreams alive in spite of the twilight of life. Having kids and growing more stable in one’s older age should never stop one from making music or following one’s dreams. “Can your new life be a new lover and can your new life face your fun” Everett asks. There are certain U2 elements to this song, but I really don’t want to give the impression that Lassie has taken all these 80’s influences and just copied them. As they have done in the past, they have truly made them their own and shaped them into their own sound.

“Saturday Night” recalls all those nights in the 80’s clubbing, dancing with flashing lights and just having a good time letting go. It certainly recalls my own youth, listening to New Order, The Psychedelic Furs, etc while enjoying time with friends and dancing in Westwood, California. Shroeder‘s guitar work on this track, heck, the whole album, is amazing. He really has grown with the rest of the band musically and this unity of growth really brings excellence to the sound of the disc. “What the Beat is For” displays Everett‘s ability to use imagery to tastefully demonstrate sexual flirtation. “She was standing their with jeans and tank top/I was feeling like a loaded gun/lose lips, swinging hips into my direction.” Of course, this flirtatious lady plays the drums, like Everett. “Eye of the Pirate” is a fanciful song that has a catchy beat with brilliant sprinkles of flowing keyboard. It is a great conclusion to this album with its themes of looking to the future with anticipation of new beginnings and looking back to memories of our youth to furnish optimism for that future.

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