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Gameface Lacks Melody to Score

** 1/2 GAMEFACE "Every Last Time" Revelation

May 06, 1999|MIKE BOEHM

With apologies to Chuck Berry, my critical taste is largely predicated on the proposition that it's gotta be catchy, memorably melodic rock 'n' roll music if you wanna dance with me. Which leaves the earnest, honorable, persistent and not untalented Gameface as perpetual wallflowers.

Orange County has produced so many strong bands that play with punk thrust and pop lift; Gameface has the thrust, but singer Jeff Caudill and mates simply lack the pop-melodic knack that could save this record, like its two predecessors, from sliding into purposeful monotony.

On its third album since 1993, the heretofore blitz-tempo band starts promisingly with a valedictory number, "Pirate Song," that sways slowly atop stately, wafting waves of warm, rippling, thrumming guitars.

Signs of a new, improved Gameface continue through "Sweet Wreck," a cautionary song about a Courtney Love-type object of adulation: "Just because you like her voice doesn't mean she tells the truth."

On "My Star," Caudill comes through with winning urgency in a song of ultra-romantic devotion and thankfulness that still betrays underlying desperation.

But everything thereafter is so-so--not because of the lyrics and themes, which are unfailingly intelligent, worthy and emotionally revealing, but because Gameface doesn't know how to play games with a melody line to keep it interesting and surprising.

Songs gallop along through even terrain, failing to take the river-deep, mountain-high leaps that make for an ear-capturing tune.

Caudill sings with a piercing, heart-on-sleeve urgency and sincerity that can call to mind Bob Mould, Live or Pearl Jam. The problem is that most of Gameface's faceless, interchangeable melodies are like the faceless, interchangeable bands it lampoons in "Hey Radio"--"By the time you say goodbye / I'd be surprised if I remember your name."

Available from Revelation Records, P.O. Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA 92615-5232; www.revhq.com

BE THERE

* Tub, Smile, Gameface and Fuzzpop play today at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim. 7:30 p.m. $5. (714) 635-6067.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent), with three stars denoting a solid recommendation.

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