Review Summary: A non-charming case of not wanting to be here anymore.
“Yer Killing Me”, the lead single from Remo Drive’s fairly beloved debut album Greatest Hits
, launched the band into relative emo fame the second Erik Paulson shouted out “I don’t want to ***ing be here anymore” amid the chaotically charming instrumental combo of 90s radio rock and new-wave emo. They were rough around the edges, didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, and took obvious influence from old and new bands within the genre. However, they were an impassioned group of artists who pulled listeners in to their grip by successfully energizing catchy melodic vocals, interesting and driving riffs, and a percussion section that never let that energy die. With follow up Natural, Everyday Degradation
, the band loses all of this energy and puts on a sorely dispassionate performance. On “Yer Killing Me”, they said they “don’t want to ***ing be here anymore”; on their follow-up album, it now simply sounds like they don’t want to be here, and the listener is sure to share in that sentiment.
Put bluntly, Remo Drive took all of the peaks and highlights from Greatest Hits
and simply performed all of them at a lower level on Natural, Everyday Degradation
. All emphasis in the mix is now placed on the vocals, which have gained an even more nasally quality without any of the grit and shouts from their previous album. Interesting riffs no longer are an important part of the song structure, which might be a blessing in disguise, as there is a drought of interesting riffs across all eleven tracks. Song tempo has been slowed down consistently across the board, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, when every song has the same uninspired drum fills at this mid-tempo pace, the album fails to develop any sort of clear identity. Less excitement and more polish has led to something bland, words that even the most ardent of Remo Drive naysayers wouldn’t be able to prescribe to Greatest Hits
This may be the most disappointing part of the Remo Drive’s progression to this undeniable sophomore slump. In all truth, there’s nothing necessarily bad about the record when listening to it. It’s a collection of perfectly serviceable indie-rockers that aren’t painful to listen to; however, that is all that the album stands to be. It’s 38 minutes of the same just-ok song. The band seems to not care, and not in an “I’m depressed and it’s relatable” emo rock sort of way - Every member of the band just seems incredibly disconnected, from the emotionless vocal delivery, to the repetitive song structure, to the lack of drive in the percussion. Occasionally they’ll break through the haze, with “The Grind” beginning to pick up tempo as the song progresses and teasingly having background vocals mixed too far into the background and a varied vocal performance including falsetto on “Around the Sun”. But outside of a few moments here and there, the album takes no risks, and doesn’t deliver it’s simple ideas in a captivating enough way to be forgivable. If their debut truly was their Greatest Hits
, then Natural, Everyday Degradation
is the portion of their catalogue that will be forgotten, and rightfully so.