LP Review; ROAM: “Great Heights & Nosedives”

“Alive” starts with a smooth guitar motive that adds in the percussion section soon after it to establish the first groove of the album. As the band progresses through the first verse, it is prominent that the band toys with instrument by adding and subtracting to add dynamic variety. The general feel of this song falls into the normal stereotypical sound of a pop punk band; however, ROAM adds their original characteristic sound in a fresh and new way. This song is very memorable, which helps to make this a strong first selection for the album.

“Left For Dead” starts with another strong guitar motive that drives the melodic material of the work. The percussion part pushes with emphasis on the steady pulse to help keep the song pushing forward. The band toys with small melodic figures throughout different instruments to keep the audience engaged and interested: they do so as they spread them out sporadically throughout the selection. As the song progresses, the band produces a strong, pleasing sound that is providing the listeners with shifts in dynamics as well as differences in instrumentation.

“The Rich Life of a Poor Man” starts with vocals from the first down-beat of the song. The feel of this piece starts with a more relaxed tone with lower vocals that complement the mood that piece. The instrumental material of this selection shifts between a strong full-band sound and isolated guitar motives that drive the overall feel of the song. The is a foreseen favorite of the album because it isn’t over the top; however, the band crafted a well-rounded selection that is characteristic of their sound, but it has a fresh sound to it, which will make listeners more interested in their material.

“Playing Fiction” starts with vocals from the first down-beat, and this song has a similar beginning to the previous song. Quickly after the first verse, the band comes in full-force with a strong sound that catches the audience off guard in the best way. The instrumental material throughout the work resonates similar to the previous tracks on the album; however, the band goes back to the shifting of dynamics to add color and variation to the work. Towards the end of the song, the band fades to almost nothing before building up with different color tones to make the piece seem more playful to the audience, which makes it more fun to listen to.

“Guilty Melody” starts with isolated vocals with simple block chords in the instrumental section for only the first couple seconds; then, the band crashes in with block chords at full-volume. After this small, loud interlude, the band falls into a softer groove that plays with this sudden addition of louder dynamics at systematic times. The pulse that is set by the band is held firm throughout the selection, which is strong because the band moves back-and-forth between a soft groove to a heavy one. Towards the middle of the selection, the band drops in dynamics to sing a monotone verse that leads directly into a grand pause. After the grand pause, the band finishes out the rest of the song while varying with time and feel.

“Open Water” starts with an electronic blurb that is similar to a DJ turntable that leads directly into the band’s characteristic sound paired with memorable instrumentation. The lyrics of the selection are catchy and help to keep the audience engaged with their strong instrumental material. The majority of this song sounds similar to previous songs on the album, but that doesn’t make this a bad work; rather, it just makes it not as strong as the others because the material presented sounds over-used. Additionally, towards the end of the song, the band includes a major instrumental interlude that features a grand guitar solo. This was a nice inclusion for the band because it gives the audience a chance to see what else the band can offer, musically speaking.

 “Curtain Call” starts with a solemn melodic motive that is held within the instrumental section; here, the band uses an acoustic guitar with small electronic based semi-tones that are mixed with their normal instrumental build. The lyrics for this beginning portion of the song mimic the feel that was engraved within the context of the music. This was a nice inclusion for the band, for it gives the audience a bit of a breather compared to the high-volume material that was previously used. On the other hand, the band doesn’t remain static in regards of the solemn tone throughout the song; rather, as the song progresses the band moves towards their normal sound while keeping the mood only a notch lower than normal. A stand-out portion of this song is towards the end when the band shifts to a half-time to feel, musically speaking. This gives the audience the chance to listen to the same material in a different light, which will keep them interested.

“Scatterbrained” starts with a guitar tone that is quickly joined by fast moving figures in the percussion section before the rhythms level out to where the band provides minimal instrumentation throughout the first verse. The band utilizes this same tactic through the rest of the song, which is effective for them because it helps them to emphasize certain phrases of the song, and it helps to keep the listeners on their toes. As a whole, the lyrics of this selection are very catchy and easy to sing along to, and the melodic material that accompanies it will likely stick in the mind of the listener. Therefore, this song will likely be a foreseen favorite from the album due to its appealing nature.

“Flatline” starts with another guitar motive that starts at a lower dynamic and slowly builds until the rest of the instrumental section adds in at a louder volume. Once the vocals enter, the sound of the overall instrumental section fades slightly to compliment the lower-ranged vocals. The chorus of this song is sung with vocals that are more aggressive than the previous tracks, for they have a bit more edge to them. This is effective, for it helps to convey the meaning of the text of the song, and it gives the audience another level of musicianship presented by the band. Towards the middle of the song, the band plays with the heightened mood that they’ve set by contradicting it with minimal instrumentation before the final run of the chorus. This is one of the stronger selections for the band because this selection is something that their audience hasn’t have heard before, especially from the band, so this work was a great addition to the album.

 “While the World Keeps Spinning” starts with vocals from the first second of the song. The lyrics are paired with a cute guitar idea that drives the melodic content of the song and helps to drive the new groove. The lyrical line remains within the same realm, but the inflections of the vocalist’s voice works nicely with the background music, and they form something pleasing to the ear. The band works with the driving of the steady pulse throughout the song just as in ones on the album prior to this selection. This works well for the band because it gives the audience something that they can expect from the band, but it also helps to keep the song moving forward as well as keeping the groove locked in.

“Home” starts with a guitar motive that is different from the previous ones on the album. The vocals add in soon after with a percussive element that moves back-and-forth between heavy hits and rim-shots. The lyrical line, throughout the work, is smooth and connected even as the vocalist’s range is pushed and pulled. The band utilizes tactics that they had done in previous sections like the adding and subtracting of instruments and having a strong heavy pulse that maintains the groove. Towards the middle of the song, the band includes a small instrumental interlude that features the bass before they come crashing back into the final chorus to drive towards the end of the album. This was a strong closing song for the album because it gives their audience a little bit of everything that they’ve presented on the album, it has a generally reassuring tone to it, and it fully shows how much the band has evolved into their new sound.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album 4 out of 5 stars.  This album received such a score because it is a strong representation of an album in the pop punk genre of music. The band provides memorable lyrics as well as memorable melodies. The grooves that are set are original but also marginally pleasing to the ear. When looking back at ROAM’s past releases, it is very apparent that the band has evolved their sound immensely, and they’ve found their characteristic sound and nuances that other bands don’t have. Therefore, if you’re looking for a band to simply jam to as you sing lyrics at the top of your lungs with a group of friends: this is the album for you. Nicely done!

*”Great Heights & Nosedives” was released on October 13, 2017 through Hopeless Records.

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