3 out of 5
Produced by: Brad Wood
Given its time of release in a landscape of music trying to figure out the “shape” of the glut of post-80s angst that’d unleashed grunge, and alternative rock, and emo, and nu-metal, Far’s debut studio album, Tin Can With Strings to You, is hard not to hear in relation to all of that. We have the passion of Jonah Matranga’s warbly howl, which takes Jeremy Enigk’s falsetto and allows it to swerve into harsh, hardcore grumbles – a proto-screamo, as has been noted – and Brad Wood’s production of the group’s meaty and hooky rhythm section, which brings forward the organic groove of their sound and amps it up further by pushing the explosiveness of the guitars and shouts; a nice mish-mash of various things Wood had done with a lot of Sub Pop and indie bands.
But for all of its undeniable energy, Tin Cans’ sound is still one of a cross-roads, not crystalized into something that looks for ears, rather just bringing in all of its influences and then turning the volume up. There’s no patience or subtlety to it, which makes Matranga’s poetic lyrics’ try-hard aspects – the poetry dominating over more affecting and direct concepts – more apparent, as it all feels bundled together in a rather youthful ball of restless angst. Boiled down to tighter tracks, like opener What I’ve Wanted to Say, this works, but the album plays this out for near an hour without much ebb and flow across its runtime. It definitely starts to drag.
That said, if one hadn’t grown up during this era and thus been quite exposed to this stuff, or maybe hadn’t been heavily invested in music at the time – i.e. you instead experience Tin Cans as a first exposure to Far and much of grunge – it probably maintains the energy and emotion that fuels the recording: instead of sounding unformed, maybe it sounds raw. And then that music journey can be followed with the disc that would come to define much of post-hardcore / emo stuff thereafter, Water & Solutions. Not a bad deal.