ALBUM REVIEW: ROAM – Backbone
It could be said that Eastbourne is known mostly for being a home to a hive of retired oldies. It’s certainly not known for its music scene. Nevertheless, South Coast boys ROAM are here to disprove the stereotype and put Eastbourne on the musical map with their debut Backbone.
Unconventional opener The Desmond Show is a radio-style introduction which is clearly designed to build the anticipation, which it does incredibly well. By the time the 28 second snippet is over, the sense of excitement for the first chord of Cabin Fever is reaching fever pitch.
After all this build up, it’s probably just as well that this track is as huge as it is. When those punchy riffs finally erupt, the dismal January weather becomes irrelevant because whenever you hear ROAM, it’s always summer. Alex Costello’s vocals carry the mighty chorus very well, a theme which carries on into the next track Deadweight and then beyond. It’s one of a multitude of factors that set this album apart from the many others.
Lead single Deadweight takes the energy from Cabin Fever and runs with it. Its more gritty and traditionally ROAM sound, combined with the dual vocals and efficacious driving drums from Charlie Pearson makes it immediately evident that this is going to sound massive live. That’s not to even mention the annoyingly catchy chorus. Its almost reminiscent of Neck Deep’s heaviest track All Hype, No Heart. You’re going to want to turn this one up.
Later on in the 12 song album, Tracks provides the obligatory acoustic track that you’ll find on every pop punk album of the last couple of years. The sensitivity and emotion of this track is a stark contrast to previous tracks but is so welcomed. The relatable lyrics of the chorus (I’ve been dragging my heels in attempts to leave tracks) have the potential to make this track a Neck Deep – A Part Of Me-style classic.
Elsewhere in the album are other notable songs. All The Same might not be quite as hard-hitting as Cabin Fever or Deadweight, but it’s intelligently written and a true showcase of the band’s musical ability. More straight-forward (and dare we say it) bog-standard pop punk tracks such as RIP In Peace show the band’s primary influences, possibly the most evident being Sum 41.
The inclusion of Headrush, a track from the band’s 2013 EP Head Down is prominent, and evidence of how far they’ve come to produce this full-length. Despite minor amendments to allow it to sit comfortably amongst the new material, it feels like a sort of ode to the early fans who allowed the band to come this far – and that’s lovely.
This album is a masterpiece in every sense of the word; from the huge pop punk riffs and intense energy of Pearson’s drums, to the charm and charisma of Costello’s amazing vocals. It has to be said that quite a few of the more modern pop punk releases haven’t really brought anything new to the table, but the same definitely cannot be said of ROAM.
Pop punk is all about fun and nostalgia; two things that Backbone provides in huge quantities. ROAM have showcased their ability to write and pull off almost everything – from polished acoustic tracks to gritty upbeat tracks of pure energy. Such flexibility is fast becoming unique, especially in the modern wave of pop punk bands – a wave which we have no doubt ROAM will be riding the crest of in the near future.
Standout Tracks: Deadweight, Cabin Fever, Tracks
For Fans Of: Neck Deep, Sum 41
Written By: Jo Howarth