Cheekface - Too Much to Ask
Stereogum: Album Of The Week
When life hands you problems, make problem-ade. It’s tough times, and that’s just one piece of advice that Los Angeles trio Cheekface has to offer for getting through it. The mantra also moonlights as the hook on the opening track to their new album, Too Much To Ask, out everywhere now. Across 11 tracks, Cheekface’s songwriters, guitarist/singer Greg Katz and bassist Amanda Tannen (who make up the band along with drummer Mark “Echo” Edwards), show off their lyrical trademark, a strangely inviting sad and sideways wit, and proceed to make hay out of life’s many mysteries. Written across the last couple of years and recorded mostly in 2022, there’s an enduring honesty and continued spirit of irreverence that permeates Too Much To Ask. Cheekface will ponder the problematic popularity of quinoa on one song (the what-if-Malkmus-fronted-Television head-nodder “Pledge Drive”), and address the boundless appetite of American imperialists on another (the relentlessly hooky and bleak “You Always Want to Bomb the Middle East,” which mashes Supergrass and The Clash). Elsewhere, the physical and mental toll of daily routine mounts on The–Cars-via-Rosenstock anthem “I Feel So Weird,” and a feature from kindred spirit Sidney Gish marks a moment in Cheekface’s discography, their first ballad: “Election Day.”
While they often stick close to the blend of post-punk and power-pop they first explored on their 2019 debut Therapy Island and honed across 2021’s Emphatically No., new to this album, the chatty indie rock outfit lets the music do the talking at times. There’s an LCDesque dance break on “Featured Singer,” the majestic Moog melody on album closer “Vegan Water,” and so much in between––including pianos, Casio keyboards, cowbells, staple guns, a stainless steel ashtray, an old vinyl suitcase, a clanky folding chair.
Both their chemistry with one another as players and their tongue-in-cheek approach to songwriting are major factors in what draws people to Cheekface. Formed in 2017, the band has since cultivated a community of like-minded, left-of-center music lovers––”our shows are total lovefests,” Katz says––and if Too Much To Ask is any indicator, it doesn’t seem like that’ll be changing anytime soon.
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Pavement, Bad Moves, Jeff Rosenstock, Parquet Courts, The Front Bottoms, Ratboys, Slaughter Beach Dog, Modern Lovers, Lou Reed
#1, 7, 8, 4 + Clean edits of #3, 10
#3, 10 (Clean edits on DISCO)