ROAM – Smile Wide
Released: September 5th, 2019
Alex Costello // Lead Vocals
Alex Adam // Vocals/Guitar
Sam Veness // Guitar
Matt Roskilly // Bass
Miles Gill // Drums
If there’s one genre of music that is always growing and improving, it’s pop punk. One of the bands making huge waves in the pop punk scene is England’s ROAM. The quintet are currently signed to Hopeless Records and Smile Wide is their third studio album. The Brits have gone from strength to strength and I dare say that Smile Wide is their best record yet and is their third release, following 2017’s Great Heights & Nosedives and 2016’s Backbone.
Smile Wide kicks off with ‘Better In Than Out’, the beauty with ROAM is that they have two powerhouse vocalists who are on an equal playing field in terms of vocal ability. Alex Costello leads the vocal lines and alternates throughout with Alex Adam. The two have a fantastic dynamic and sound awesome together. Better In Than Out is a great way to start the party that is this record and it’s a fun, punchy tune that really sets the tone. Leading single ‘I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore’ is next. Of the track Alex Adam says: ‘this track uses the idea of an out of body experience to exemplify the feeling of being out of control in any situation’. There was a lot of dark themes covered up with party vibes on Great Heights & Nosedives and with Smile Wide it seems that this is continuing with what the first two tracks present. Track three is ‘LOUD’ and straight away there are Simple Plan and All Time Low vibes, especially with the opening riffs and beats. The drumming is stand out here which seems fitting given the song’s title, and Miles Gill really kills it. You’re always going to want light and shade on a record and the first three tracks are different enough that they do that, whilst also being upbeat enough that they aren’t boring.
‘Play Dumb’ is a little slower than the previous three tracks and the harmonies that Alex Adam and Sam Veness play together are really crisp and clean. Instrumentally it’s probably one of the stronger offerings on the record and has a few different layers to it which is really pleasing to the ear. Next is ‘The Fire On The Ceiling’, and it’s a typical pop punk song and lyrically talks about drowning, not feeling pain, not growing and feeling sick. It’s a good formula to follow, but it’s also something all pop punk bands do. ‘Piranha’ is track five and I’m not really sure why but I was getting serious Weezer vibes from it. It’s less pop punk and a little more pop rock, especially when the breakdown hits. I really wish this was higher up on the tracklist and I’m glad the guys released it prior to the album. It’s my favourite track on the record and just gave me really happy vibes and feelings. ‘Red & Blue’ is more on the heavy side as well and it’s so exciting and refreshing to see ROAM exploring other genres and styles. I’m also a big fan of the guitar riff that repeats throughout and it does a great job of carrying the track musically.
‘Hand Grenade’ plays games with you to start with as you think it’s going to be a slower track, then the electric guitar and drums kick in and you realise you’re happily mistaken. The lyrics gave me a bit of a laugh as it seems a bit like they had trouble finding words to rhyme with grenade. ‘Well I’ll be making, I’ll be making lemonade, I don’t like the taste, I don’t like the taste.’ being one of my all time favourite lyrics in a song. Ever. Second to last is ‘Toy Box’ and Matt Roskilly finally gets to take some of the attention for himself and the bassline is the best part of this song. That’s not to say that the rest of the band slack off, I just really enjoyed the bass and the way it carried. The final track is ‘Turn’ and it’s a perfect way to round out what’s been a great album. It’s on the slower side and is a nice, closing piece.
I said it at the start and I’m saying it again, Smile Wide is ROAM’s best album yet, musically, lyrically and production wise. Alex Adam and Alex Costello’s vocals get better with each album, as do Sam Veness, Matt Roskilly and Miles Gill with their guitar, bass and drum playing respectively. I think that Smile Wide is going to gain them a lot of new fans and it kicks off what’s going to be a really exciting album cycle and era for the British boys.
ROAM – Smile Wide tracklisting:
- Better In Than Out
2. I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore
4. Play Dumb
5. The Fire On The Ceiling
7. Red & Blue
8. Hand Grenade
9. Toy Box