Sublime With Rome - Sirens (Album Review)

When original Sublime members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson announced they'd be reforming Sublime with a new singer it was almost a crazy notion to think it could work. When the first videos performed with Rome surfaced it was like the band had found the perfect new front man. He performed the classic Sublime songs more than admirably. The band tweaked their name to add “with Rome”, which was agreed upon by the late Brad Nowell's estate. The band have since gone on to perform to massive audiences. They released their debut album, Yours Truly, which I thought was a pretty good success. The band had all of the original flavor of Sublime's music and with Rome's input it became a thing of its own. The band didn't replicate the original albums instead they created an album that had a lot of elements of classic Sublime while being something new. That added to the legacy as opposed to damaging it. When drummer Bud left and was replaced by Josh Freese it put the band in an interesting spot with fans. Many wondered if they should continue on or not as a band using the Sublime name. I think fans were divided, but ultimately the band soldiered on. Now the band has released their second album under the Sublime with Rome titled Sirens. I went into this one wondering if the band could continue writing great songs or if the moment of surprise of "oh crap, Sublime has a new album with a new singer!" had worn off in the four years between Yours Truly and Sirens.

Now I had always figured a lot of weight would be on the first Sublime with Rome album and it really did have that amount of weight. Yours Truly could, at times, be a really polarizing album for fans of Sublime. It tried to balance a weighty fan-loved legacy while it also tried to add something and be its own thing to some degree. I thought that if the band ever made a sophomore album that some of the weight would be off. I'm not sure that's the case as far as fan reaction because fans still seem really torn about Sublime with Rome. However, musically speaking the band seems to be cool and confident that they've created their best album yet (at least that's what I gather from interviews I've read). Sirens is a victory lap for the band in many ways. They made it past the comeback album, replaced the member that didn't want to be there, and on Sirens the songs feel more balanced in both their nostalgia and progression. The album also sounds a lot more organic and has a little bit less of the polished production sound of Yours Truly and is more in favor of a production style that is is slightly rougher and a little more "punk" sounding. I think the production style fits the sound a little better this time around. I definitely think it sounds more like a Sublime album in that sense. Eric Wilson's bass lines sound a little higher in the mix this time around, which adds a lot to the sounds and is something I wish I had heard more on Yours Truly. The song "Skankin" sounds like it could have been a song classic Sublime would have covered and Rome's vocals on the song are one of my favorite performances of his on the album.

The album starts off and transitions the listener pretty smoothly from the sound of Yours Truly to Sirens. The first two songs, "Sirens" and "Wherever You Go", sound very much in the vein of something you would hear off Yours Truly. Both are fun songs and serve as a solid introduction to the album. "Sirens" features members of The Dirty Heads rapping over the instrumental. Their addition to the song was okay but I think the song could have been stronger without The Dirty Heads. I just wasn't that big of a fan of what they brought to the song. By the third song "Brazilia" the band starts experimenting around with their style. "House Party" is a pretty groovy song. The bass line sounds great in the song and I really enjoyed Rome's vocal approach. I like the light DJ scratching found throughout the song as well. It's a feel good song and one that I think stuck out to me as a favorite on first listen. This time around the band explores with slower sounds, dance vibes, and mood throughout the album in different ways and/or completely unexpected ways. I think they end up making most, if not all, of it work and I think it makes for a well balanced listen. "Been Losing Sleep" is a well paced song that sounds like a reggae infused dance number that has a late 90s to early 2000s alternative pop edge. Instrumentally it sounds like it could have been right at home on one of the dancier No Doubt albums. Heck, it might have even fit on No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom. It's a really neat song. "Best Of Me" is a grungy sounding punk song. It's definitely a rocker on the album. Rome's vocals have been run through distortion to add a little grit to them. There are some really neat guitar leads in the song. It's pretty raucous compared to anything you heard on Yours Truly. "Run And Hide" is similar with its heavy riff and more grunge, punk sound. It's not quite as successful as Rome delivers vocals at such a fast past that it almost sounds odd. There are some definite Suicidal Tendencies vibes on the vocals. Even if it is not my favorite the song is definitely growing on me. I really like how the guitar sounds on the song. It leads the song and metaphorically kicks you in the teeth with its abrasiveness.

Freese fits the band really well on drums throughout the album. I think the drums have quite a bit more of a rock sound as opposed to Bud's drumming. It's clear Freese is more than proficient behind the kit from the various projects he's been involved in and he continues to show his talent throughout the album. His drumming definitely has a positive impact on the songs and album as a whole, even if I can't help but miss the fact this is the first Sublime related album without Bud on drums.

I think if you didn't like Yours Truly then you might find Sirens suits you better. If you like Yours Truly then I think you're going to enjoy a lot of this album, if not all of it. I think the progression on Sirens is neat. Sonically a lot of these songs sound really good. It's a more well rounded listening experience. It has a lot of shiny spots all the way around. There are neat guitar riffs and leads, the bass has tons of standout spots on the album, and the drums sound really well produced and performed. Rome continues to show why he was a great fit for front man. His vocals sound really good on the album. Something about this album feels more Sublime than the previous album. There are definitely some nice surprises. I was a big fan of Yours Truly and wasn't 100% sure what to expect with Sirens. I think as far as the listening experience goes I came out satisfied plus some. The band took some chances on this one that paid off and the incorporation of the tried and true sounds from past Sublime albums enhance a lot of things about this album from sound, production, and style that should please any fan of Sublime, old and new. I'm really digging this one and can definitely see myself returning back to it quite a bit. Sublime with Rome continue to do a great job paying homage to the Sublime legacy while blazing ahead and forming a trail of their own. I'm guessing this album will probably land pretty high on my best of list this year.

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