steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

review
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info opinion

For Against

"Shade Side, Sunny Side" CD

Words on Music

Genre: post-punk, indie rock

Lincoln, Nebraska

Jan 19, 2009

For Against have long been the ultimate music snob band, one of those names every would-be critic bandies around but few have actually gone to the trouble of investigating. Their first two albums are respected but rarely-heard post-punk classics, iconic exemplars of the Factory Records sound despite coming out of Lincoln, Nebraska. Both were reissued by Minneapolis' Words on Music label in the past few years, allowing a new generation of post-punk enthusiasts and indie nerds to sample a taste of why For Against's reputation precedes them. Shade Side, Sunny Side, meanwhile, is an all new offering from the lovable Nebraskans, the first since 2002's Coalesced. The result of those six years is a record still clearly obsessed with the Factory post-punk sound, but adorned with a more polished, atmospheric slickness.

The first thing you're likely to notice about Shade Side, Sunny Side is simply that it sounds awesome. For Against is a welcome reprieve from the loads of bands that have made their way to my ears over the past few years. Right from the charging, icy post-punk of "Glamour" (think Unknown Pleasures but more lush) it is clear that this is going to be a melodic yet serious work of music. However, despite its dark post-punk leanings, this album is also a lot more pop-focused than For Against's earlier releases. "Underestimate" is a melodic gem, replete with an anthemic chorus and a breakthrough bridge. Meanwhile, "Game Over" is a heartbreakingly pretty piano-based ballad a change from what I'm used to from the band, but a welcome addition to this album. Also noteworthy are sentimental "Irresistible" and dream-popper "Spirit Lake." Only a few tracks, meanwhile, stick to the band's trademark cold post-punk formula; "Aftertaste," "Quiet Please," and a cover of Section 25's "Friendly Fires" are the most obvious examples.

Few eighties post-punk acts have retained their relevance for this long, but Shade Side, Sunny Side is a spectacular record that stands up perfectly well next to For Against's early classics. A late entry for 2008's best-of list, this is a terrific piece of music that deserves to be owned by every serious music listener.

for against's myspace

90%

youuuuuuuutube!: classic "echelons" video

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]