1. Glamour, 2. Underestimate, 3. Why Are You So Angry?, 4. Aftertaste, 5. Friendly Fires, 6. Game Over, 7. Spirit Lake, 8. Quiet Please, 9. Irresistible
Shade Side Sunny Side is For Against's seventh full-length record and first studio album since 2002. As the Lincoln, Nebraska trio approaches their 25th anniversary on the independent music scene, For Against has reemerged with an exclamation point: Shade Side Sunny Side is a landmark record for the band, boasting For Against's darkest (and loudest) material to date. The post-punk roots of For Against's early years are firmly in place, but presented throughout nine new songs with a more expansive and atmospheric sonic palette.
Shade Side Sunny Side also marks the notable return of original For Against guitarist Harry Dingman III, who formed For Against with vocalist and bassist Jeffrey Runnings back in 1984. Dingman left the band after 1988's seminal dream pop record, December. For the new album, the prolific Runnings-Dingman songwriting team picks up right where they left off 20 years ago, when they wrote the classic postpunk material that comprised Echelons, December, and In The Marshes all within a 2-year span.
"Glamour," the album's opening track, is a fierce proposition that tours the early Factory Records sound before segueing into a cold post-punk stomp coated by Runnings' icy vocals.
Songs like "Underestimate" and the album closer "Irresistible" sparkle with a pop grandeur hinted at by 2002's Coalesced, but are infused with unmistakable guitarwork revealing the fingerprints of Dingman's return: searing feedback, atmospheric chord-play, and inspired hooks coaxed together to form a musical backbone that is both furious and gorgeous.
These varied sonic textures have also given drummer Paul Engelhard the largest creative space he has enjoyed during his 17-year tenure - from the dynamic skip beats in "Game Over," to the propulsive tom-toms of "Glamour," to the minimalistic post-rock stylings of "Spirit Lake."
"Aftertaste" is a blistering song that melds the musical sensibilities of Joy Division's early Warsaw years with production by Marc Ostermeier (Should) hinting at Wire's 154. The album also includes a cover version of "Friendly Fires," written by Factory Records' Section 25, from their 1981 debut Always Now.
Shade Side Sunny Side also includes some of the most heartrending accounts by Runnings to date. The album reveals itself as a confessional and therapeutic musical diary, with several songs recounting the tragic life and loss of a close family member, from the acerbic "Glamour," to the haunting ballad "Why Are You So Angry?," and culminating in "Game Over," where Runnings is at his most defenseless, singing nakedly on piano through the first verse and chorus.
For Against's musicianship on Shade Side Sunny Side is in top form, reflecting a maturity befitting their quarter-century of songwriting and performances and a freshness that has drawn together an interesting union of dream pop enthusiasts in the USA and a strong darkwave following in Europe.