Review Summary: Generic but unfairly panned
For some bands, it's hard to move on when a singer dies—take Nirvana, The Doors and No Use For A Name as examples, as they disbanded following the tragedies that took their singers' lives. For other bands, they'll continue soldiering on with a replacement to continue the band's legacy, or perhaps maybe even because the singer would want their band to continue on without them. Sublime With Rome
was born out of the idea that Brad would have wanted the band to go on without him (despite the fact that they initially disbanded shortly after his death out of respect for him); and now with drummer Bud Gaugh having departed, SWR began feeling more like a Sublime tribute band than a continuation of Sublime with a new vocalist, despite the fact that they've continued to produce new original material. Fortunately, however, the trio (now including Josh Freese) have managed to put together another fine release in the form of Sirens
—but it's just fine and samey and nothing groundbreaking.
Obviously, Rome Ramirez is not even close to being in Bradley Nowell's league. However, when it comes to SWR's original, his voice no doubt fits the sound well—he's actually a pretty competent singer who doesn't get enough credit. Likewise, Eric Wilson is top-notch as always, doing his best to ensure that his playing would make Brad proud. Josh Freese was a surprisingly nice addition, and although his drum tracks can get samey at times, they're passable despite the fact that he's capable of so much more. Unfortunately, Sublime With Rome's love of the generic is ultimately their downfall; while there are some stand-out tracks with catchy hooks and infectious melodies here and there (such as in lead single "Wherever You Go"), at the end of the day it's just standard ska-punk; there's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and there's no creative spin on the same tired tropes. Production is also the standard run-of-the-mill rock production for the most part, although unlike many rock records nowadays they've actually mixed the bass to the point where it's audible.
At the end of the day, Sirens
isn't a bad record, and Sublime With Rome should honestly be commended for trying to keep the legacy of Brad alive. Likewise, generic isn't a bad thing, but Sublime was one of the pioneers of the genre and Sublime With Rome should be trying to reflect that. The album isn't a dump on Brad's legacy like everyone has made it out to be, but Rome and Eric are all capable of so much better and should be tapping into their potential and continuing to evolve the genre instead of wallowing in the same cliches. But despite the flaws, Sirens
is a genuinely enjoyable album, and while it absolutely will not win over anti-SWR folk, those who have warmed up to them will definitely find something to enjoy; but here's to hoping Rome and Eric will be able to tap into their true potential and live up to their name next time.