More of the same from Eastbourne quintet with their second release, Great Heights and Nosedives.
Having listened to ROAM for a couple of years now, I was hoping for a refreshing, more refined sound from their latest venture. Following an uncountable number of listens to 2015’s Backbone, which was laced with some killer tracks, I approached their new album with trepidation.
A couple of singles from the album, namely Alive and Playing Fiction, filled me with hope. For pop-punk fans, it is easy to enjoy ROAM’s music as it demonstrates a bounce charged with exemplary vigour. Alive promotes an impressive display of drumming – an aspect that hyped me for the potential calibre for their new work. I can only imagine the way in which the band would work and galvanise the crowd throughout one of their live shows. Moreover, Playing Fiction croons through the opening verses and pops into a chorus that is hard not to sing along to.
As an opening track, Alive, establishes the pace of the album. ROAM have made a name for themselves by crafting exuberant pop-punk music and their latest work seems to fit that blueprint. Left for Dead increases the pace even further, trashing through series of verses and chorus’ with incredible energy. Songs such as Rich Life of a Poor Man are also impressive. The jovial, feel-good nature of this track makes for a great listen. The back and forth vocals work tremendously well with the spritely guitars and energetic drumming in the chorus. I can’t help but make comparisons to bands such as New Found Glory when they release songs like this, they have clearly learned a lot from their recent dates on tour with them. Open Water, despite many obvious lyric choices, has a similar foundation. The song is energetic and rolls incredibly seamlessly into the fast-paced chorus.
Flatline reminds me of the earlier work of Sum 41 (a band they accompanied on the 2015 Kerrang! Tour) a comparison that has been made of ROAM on multiple occasions. It is clear that, like many bands of the genre, they have been influenced by the pop-punk giants. Tracks such as Deadweight from their previous album provide further evidence of this. Frustratingly, I feel as though these are the only tracks worth a notable mention. I struggle to connect with songs such as Scatterbrained and While the World Keeps Spinning, unfortunately, they failed to leave a lasting impression on me and don’t match the potential of some of their other work.
Again, I feel as though ROAM have not done anything different with the lyrics either – they seem to be as stock as ever. Although the vocals of Alex Costello’s continue to provide a tasty flavour to the band, I cannot escape the ‘marmite’ backing singing of lead guitarist Alex Adam. I have experienced a turbulent relationship with his singing since their earlier work. His vocals on the EPs Head Down and Viewpoint are enjoyable, however, as the rest of the band has tightened up over their full-length albums, I do feel as though he has somewhat been left behind. As I said, love them or hate it, Adam’s voice does add a further dynamic to the band.
For a fan of the genre, Great Heights and Nosedives is an interesting listen, the lofty comparisons to Sum 41 and, in places, New Found Glory, is meant as a compliment. As always with Roam, I just wish that the killer tracks would make up a larger portion of the album.