Self styled and described as dance punk, Remo Drive’s latest album, Natural, Everyday Degradation sets out it stall as it means to go on: Two Bux is a bittersweet song that is as heavy on the danceable elements as it is on the melancholy. It has a hook you can sing a long to by second refrain and a no nonsense riff that is straightforward and uplifting. Following songs, The Grind and The Devil follow on in similar fashion; they’re somewhat jovial on the surface but lyrically and by way of vocal melody there’s a depressing undercurrent. It does however give room for great emotional range and dynamism as the crescendos feel triumphant and as though you can overcome adversity.
Some of the guitar work on this album is astounding. Simple but effective, the solo on Shakin’ has the same punch-the-air-in-glee feel of Weezer at their best, and the main riff of Dog carries its own story of emotional torment and victory over hardship in its gently picked open notes. Lyrically the album is fairly unremarkable, there’s a bluntness to Erik Paulson’s realism and a lack of poetry in his metaphors. This is not to say the lyrics are bad however, they service the mood and feel of the songs well and carry each track from point A to point B competently. It’s just that with musicianship this well executed, you’d hope for a little more.
When compared to their peers in the world of drab punk music, Remo Drive can hold their heads high as they have produced a decent album that is above the average. They don’t quite hit the high echelons of a Joyce Manor, Nervus or Milk Teeth, but they have potential and are within touching distance. The musical dexterity of Separate Beds and the post punk feel of the album’s second half imply great things to come from the band, but they aren’t quite there yet. A more than enjoyable way of spending your time, and for some listeners this will become a very special release, but it is shy of being top tier.
Natural, Everyday Degradation by Remo Drive is released on the 31st of May on digital format through Epitaph Records. The physical release follows in June. The album can be pre-ordered at http://www.remodriveband.com/.