Published Sep 10, 2019Smile Wide is the third full-length from British pop punk quintet ROAM, following 2017's Great Heights and Nosedives. This album is a departure from the band's signature pop punk songwriting, giving listeners more polished '90s alternative rock melodies and gut-wrenching lyrics about finding your voice and standing up for yourself.
Opener "Better In Than Out," a bouncy pop punk song about someone going through an identity crisis, is a perfect example of classic ROAM. However, by the third track "LOUD," it's clear that the band are trying something new. While the chanted "L-O-U-D" in the hook feels oddly placed, the slick guitar work and pounding bridge easily outshine it, making it one of the best songs on the album.
Although the middle four songs on Smile Wide aren't bad, they're sonically all very similar, and end up blending into one long and easily skippable song.
The band break out of the monotony with penultimate "Toy Box," a fast-paced "screw you" to people who make you feel trapped and don't care for what you have to say.
Final track "Turn" is a laid-back song that sounds akin to "In Bloom" by Neck Deep. It's a reminder that there's no point dwelling on the past as there's always a new day around the corner. For a band that's so used to writing fast-paced pop punk, this song is a step in a new direction. It's a huge risk that has resulted in a perfect closer to Smile Wide. (Hopeless)