New Music Review: Sublime; ‘Yours Truly’ (LISTEN)
Simply put, Sublime is not the same without our dearly beloved Bradley Nowell. That being said, Sublime with Rome does more than suffice the reggae, dub, west coast boogie we all love. Fresh off the press, Yours Truly takes us on a journey through the all but forgotten Sublime stylee, dropping at a perfect time: early summer.
The album kicks off with “Panic,” a track that could have been a bonus track on Sublime’s self-titled album from 1996. If Sublime with Rome is planning on dedicating a track to Nowell, this should be it. It gives us fast-paced, up-stroke guitar chord progressions from Rome Ramirez, coupled with his silky, swift vocals. In true ska and Sublime fashion, horns find their way in a delightful manner throughout the entire album but are more pronounced on this track. In addition to “Panic,” the album circles its way back to punk style speed on songs like “My World” and “Paper Cuts.”
Most of the grooves on the album wind down a mellow, serene highway that induce a tranquil vibe. The majority of the new album, especially the lighter, Marley-esque numbers, touch on one of the most ubiquitous subjects is music history; love. Rome’s lyrical prose takes us through the tumultuous nature of romantic relationships, lost affection, and unrequited love on tracks like “Only,” “Lover’s Rock,” “Murdera,” “PCH,” “Same Old Situation,” “Spun,” and their first single “Take It Or Leave It.”
Yours Truly also offers a nice little surprise on the last track of the album called “Can You Feel It.” We are graced with the presence of Wiz Khalifa, the Pittsburgh rapper known for the hit single “Black and Yellow.”
Are the lyrics a far cry from the mischievous nature of Nowell’s bad-boy, “I don’t give a shit” attitude and general way of life? Sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the music. Bud Gaugh still beats the skins as well as he did over a decade ago and Eric Wilson’s bass lines are, as per usual, vastly underrated. Nowell carried a subtly in the way he sang of drugs, sex, and the pursuit of happiness that was frequently overlooked by the up-tempo, light-hearted melodies that the former band was able to deliver, but Ramirez does a pretty good job of filling the eternal gap.
As a lifelong Sublime fan, I stand by my notion that no one will ever replace Bradley Nowell’s vocals that take us on smooth and sadistic journeys simultaneously. He had the undying ability to sweet-talk a damsel and scare the shit out of a lion all while referring to clutching a forty of cheap beer, smoking the finest California herb, and causing a raucous wherever he went. At the same time, I don’t think anyone on the planet could bring Sublime back from the dead the way Rome Ramirez has. Is he trying to emulate Bradley in a number of different ways? Of course, but if he didn’t and we just had some chop-shop lead-singer-for-hire up at the mic, the name “Sublime” would be a mere marketing tool.
I was afforded the opportunity to see Sublime with Rome at Roseland Ballroom in New York last summer when they were strictly playing old Sublime songs and it was awesome, to say the least. Now that they’ve got an entire LP of original music, seeing them again will not only allow me to take a trip down memory lane with old classics, but it will shine a light on where the revival of a band that dominated its genre is headed.
If you’re not already packing the bong or driving down your respective coast with the top down, once you spin this album you will definitely be inclined to do so.
P.S. Don’t forget to catch them on tour this summer with 311.
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