The band has made some big strides toward closing the gap between its previous relatively lackluster studio efforts and its Category 4 live show. In the new material, especially "You Win" (the band's most radio-friendly song since "Here I Am"), it's obvious that they have paid special attention to the sculpturing of the vocals and the overall presentation of the songs. Guitarist-singer Jason Self's backing vocal efforts provide a smooth complement to the nasally, skittish style of front man Billy Hargrove.
Another particularly striking new track is "Slowly Running Dry." Hargrove reduces the pace considerably, and the band comes up with a multifaceted groove that ranges from a mid-tempo Latin swing to down-tuned nü-metal crunch. Here the lanky singer is at his most convincing. The laid-back style is a welcome change from the days when Hargrove seemed hell-bent on setting the world record for most syllables crammed into a ten-second burst.
More progress is evidenced by the emergence of drummer Charlie Carlisle, the band's most versatile instrumental voice. Carlisle introduces "Give It Up" with African-based rhythms, which are then spiced up by a psychedelic guitar line. The song zigs and zags between nice harmony lines and throaty Louis Armstrong wails from jocose sideman Bryan Broussard (officially a percussionist-singer; informally, "the cardboard sign dude").
Rather than diving into the vanilla mush that nü-metal has become, Faceplant has molded its sound into something harder to pigeonhole. The group is one step closer to finding its own niche, and in this era where even a downtrodden music industry still calls the shots, that takes guts.