Wide smiles? ROAM return with their highly-anticipated third album.
Eastbourne 5-piece ROAM have been a staple in the British pop-punk scene for many years at this point and now, on the cusp of the release of their third studio album, it feels to be a pivotal moment in their career. Having burst onto the scene with cult-followed EP Head Rush, the band have been releasing a constant stream of music ever since which has felt – by and large – to have solidified a respectably sized fanbase. Could Smile Wide be the catalyst for a cementing a bright and exciting future for the band?
The album opens with Better In Than Out, and it arrives with a catchy melody. What ensues is a ditty spanning little under three minutes that has punchy energy. The echoed vocals play their part – even if they do feel to be masking the somewhat empty lyrics – to bring together a solid opening track. The Fire On The Ceiling is of a similar nature. While it is not reinventing the wheel, this song offers a stong melody and showcases that the band are more than capable of producing a song where all the instruments complement one another. The result? A tune that demands you dance along with it, and for this reason, it feels to be a shoo-in to cement a place on the band’s setlist in their upcoming shows with With Confidence.
Another song that I am sure will secure its place in ROAM’s live set is Piranha – the second single from Smile Wide. It’s a tune about feeling disdained by life and it attempts to be relatable, trying to connect with any listeners that have ever felt lost in their current position and are at risk being surrounded by those who don’t have your best interests at heart. While the message is simple, the lyrics don’t really offer much more than that sentence – it feels shallow. Although the twanging guitars that are displayed in the chorus provide a pleasant respite in the longevity of the album, the song has incredible potential but its application feels lacklustre.
LOUD – as the name suggests – is a number about desiring to be heard. This song has a stimulative potential to it, and with a bit of polishing, nothing is stopping it being a full-blown anthem. However, the ‘L-O-U-D, LOUD’ pre-chorus hook feels a little too familiar to me. Perhaps the reason why this song feels to have a winning formula at its core is that, well it does. LOUD replicates Bring Me The Horizon’s hook in Happy Song, as if the band have done a dodgy job in trying to copy their homework. What’s more, the squealing riff in the chorus is a little overbearing and feels to be more of a distraction than a positive addition.
However, songs such as Play Dumb do offer a bit of hope. The verses have a promising, pulsating pace and feel to build up to the big crescendo – which in this case is the chorus. Its thrashing nature is liberating and is a real moment of note in the course of the Smile Wide narrative. I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore is an all-round great tune. This song will stick with you for weeks to come after just one listen. There is a vintage 90s sound to this song that truly wetted the whistle for fans of the band in the run-up to Smile Wide. Unfortunately, because this song is miles superior to anything else featured on the rest of the album, I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore almost hinders the rest of the LP. It highlights that the band can write textured verses and catchy hooks, but haven’t been able to do it on more than one occasion.
Callum Huthwaite & Megan Foxen
Listen to Smile Wide
Catch ROAM on their co-headline UK Tour with With Confidence:
20 Southampton 1865
21 London O2 Academy Islington
22 Bristol Thekla
23 Birmingham O2 Institute2
25 Glasgow Classic Grand
26 Manchester Academy 3
27 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
28 Leeds Key Club