Roam aren’t here to change music. They’re a band that knows who they are and what their fans like, and they do it damn well.
Many bands shy away from the ‘pop punk’ tag on their third albums, but this Eastbourne quintet aren’t afraid to take the genre’s well-defined recipe of melody and breakdowns, and bake it to the highest standard out there right now. We’re talking three minutes of polished perfection on each track from Smile Wide. Roam do pop punk, and they do it better than most.
Smile Wide isn’t all lyrics about partying and summer days, though. In a slight move away from the younger – and by the sounds of it – more carefree days of Roam, songs like ‘I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore’ are situated in a different mind frame than the happy-go-lucky lyrics of past. Laidback and breezy, it gives you a vibe of summer drives and beach days, while delivering a knock-out undertone of self-depreciation. They make downcast lyrics sound so profoundly upbeat.
A darker key change at the end of ‘Piranha’ is the shining example of the versatility in mood that Roam are capable of, while still not shying away from being more pop punk than pop punk. Similarly, the sweet but versatile vocals from Alex Costello on each track convey so much expression that at times you could mistake the singing as coming from a set of entirely different people. Closing track ‘Turn’ showcases a massive change in pace and complete overhaul to the largely fast-paced, ‘go-go-go’ nature that we’ve seen of this band so far.
They’re still so Roam, though. ‘Hand Grenade’ is all breakdown and melody. The cheerleader-esque vocals on ‘Loud’ are everything you’d expect from them. ‘Red & Blue’ is raw and exciting; just ready and waiting to electrocute the crowd at a gig. Similarly, the melodic singalong charm of ‘The Fire on the Ceiling’ will be screamed along at every live show. Ridiculously catchy stand-out track ‘Play Dumb’ is punchy and passionate, delivering attitude in the politest way that only Roam could pull off.
It’s easy in this genre to make an album of tracks that all sound the same. Isn’t that the joke with pop punk? Smile Wide is far from the punchline though, with each song offering up its own poignant tale.
The album is filled with lyrics that we can all relate to. Spending money on food, paying rent. Smile Wide is the simplicities of modern – sometimes difficult – millennial life laid bare. The simplicities that comfort us and are sometimes all we really want. Just like some decent pop punk to listen to while we go about our days. Roam have provided that in the impressively understated but overwhelming way that only they could.
The south coast five-piece have been steadily climbing the ranks these past years; at a time when many of their peers have dropped off, Roam have thrived. A more versatile structure and an added layer of maturity to these 10 tracks of pop punk perfection have seen Roam graduate at the top of their UK Pop Punk class.
Catch Roam on their forthcoming UK co-headline tour with With Confidence. Dates are as follows:
Sept 20 Southampton 1865
Sept 21 London O2 Academy Islington
Sept 22 Bristol Thekla
Sept 23 Birmingham O2 Institute 2
Sept 25 Glasgow Classic Grand
Sept 26 Manchester Academy 3
Sept 27 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Sept 28 Leeds Key Club