As described on their own Bandcamp page, Role Models is “good old rock”. The Go-to Guy is their debut album, after sprinkling small releases in 2014, EP Lost in the City and single “This Eventually Leads Nowhere”. The group involves Rich Jones of past punk rock bands The Yo-Yo’s and the Loyalties. Their earlier releases feel a touch more indie than this finished full-length, which follows a styled, purist vein of classic “good old rock”, not dissimilar to the way those past projects came off sounding. That being said, I don’t love this purist approach to rock music, but there are diggable moments in this piece.
Role Models ride along in a vein of ‘90s rock (with essence of rockabilly) which makes sense since Rich Jones and Rich Rags both were active throughout that time. The vocals are deep and masculine, sounding familiar, but in a chafing way. This album has a low volume despite the melodic racket it dispenses, which feels good on the ballad-esque track “Leave Tonight”, which, for what it’s worth, had me Googling to see if it was a cover. It’s a good little ballad, a little moony, a wearied sense pervading through the lyrics “if it’s wrong/ if it’s gone / let’s leave tonight”. My favorite song on the album is “The Go-To Guy”, which is the shortest. It’s punchy, loud, and effortless. It rocks without abandon, the vocals grunty and unaffected. It’s a step apart from the rest and it leaves me wishing the rest had a similar careless, punkish attitude, rather than trying to be super classic sounding. It suites them, they pull the style off well, without I think realising it.
What keeps me from liking the bulk of this album is that it’s happy-punkish. It’s got feel-good vibes, striving to be fun and crazy, and for what it is, it does give off that vibe. However, the fact that they do seem to be consciously reaching out to this goal so hard prevents any real emotion from worming into very many of the songs and as much as I hate to say it, it comes off feeling cliche. It feels like some kid-ghost of a stronger rock past that’s long vacated the stage. This type of repeat rock, if you will, exists to put out wholesome, fast, and spunky-sounding tunes, and it does that seemingly regardless of any changing season.
Role Models release their album tomorrow at the Black Heart in Camden, London. Check out the event for more details:
By Erin Moore