TITLE: GREAT HEIGHTS & NOSEDIVES
LABEL: HOPELESS RECORDS
British pop-punk outfit ROAM deliver with sophomore album.
What a couple of years it’s been for ROAM, an Eastbourne band who, according to guitarist Alex Adam, got their name from a Story So Far song. It came up on his iPod whilst the band were sat on a trampoline using shuffle to choose their name. Standard.
They needed no such help naming this year’s release Great Heights & Nosedives. It’s a great title and it implies that ROAM have brought us a collection of songs which jump from joyous highs, to plunging lows. In this case the album delivers on that fully.
It’s not just a fantastic run of songs it’s a great revolving door of emotions that swings from bouncing, major key tunes back to crunching, often soaring minor ballads. The switch is instantaneous from song to song, yet seamless. It’s an album of opposing feelings from one track to the next, yet, it works so well as an album.
Single and opener ‘Alive’ is a great road into the record. A bouncing, slick song that is all encompassing and engaging. It’s not breaking any new ground but it’s certainly a better produced, better executed version of anything the quintet could have produced on previous record Backbone. ‘Flatline’ is in a similar category, leaning towards that fast, barre-chord-laden pop-punk that exists to get crowds moving. It doesn’t have that gritty, ropey edge that ROAM were previously accustomed too but they no longer need that. Precision and pace has become their new weapon of choice and they wield them expertly.
‘I think we went into way more detail this time,’ explains guitarist and vocalist Alex Adam when asked about the differences in recording between their debut Backbone and their current record.
‘We really picked apart every single section of every single instrument or rhythm of melody and just refined and refined until we had something we were really proud of.’
You can take his words as gospel because everything he said is overtly present in Great Heights… From the offset it’s clear that everything in this record is bigger, better and more considered then previous effort Backbone. It’s not a move away from any genre or an attempt to delve into a new one, it is 100% pure premium ROAM but it’s much improved.
ROAM have always held a USP in their serene dual vocals and nowhere is it better shown then on lead single Playing Fiction. It’s another crowd pleaser that is so irresistibly catchy that you can’t help but pick up the lyrics within seconds. Opening with a string of tight melodies and an interchange between lead singer Alex Costello and guitarist Alex Adam, ‘Playing Fiction’ is already a serious fan favourite.
Nothing is perfect and ROAM do fall down the gap in the sofa when it comes to some tracks. ‘Scatterbrained’ sounds a bit forced whilst ‘Home’ reeks of clichés that make it unenjoyable.
While ROAM haven’t broken any new ground they have worked seriously on their original sound and the levels of maturity are certainly shining through. ‘Curtain Call’ is nothing short of a pop-punk masterpiece, elements of‘Sum-41 and New Found Glory dotted through a new, modern approach. Beginning with the ringing out of an iridescent acoustic guitar the song builds into a soaring chorus, ‘Now I’m falling into place, with grey skies and bitter ends’ it’s a smashing chorus and it’s destined to hit you right there. Right there in the feels.
Overall, ROAM have delivered us expectation. It’s a great album but it’s not going to be their best and that’s what is so exciting. The steps they have made, through their lyrics, their instrumentation, their mature song writing, hints at so much more. This is a great album but the next one is going to be superb. For now we’ll just have to settle.
You can listen to the album here:
WORDS: DOMINIC MOFFITT