Album Review: Role Models – “Forest Lawn”
Role Models’ debut album The Go To Guy was one of the surprise standouts of last year. Mainly known prior to its release as “that band who you normally see supporting other groups at the 12 Bar and drinking the venue dry afterwards”, they really spread their wings with a stormingly assured debut which sounded like some righteous cross between The Replacements, Tom Petty and The Ramones. So the big question is, can they come up with something equally awesome for the follow-up?
In a word – yes. Forest Lawn does what every good sophomore effort should do by taking the best parts of the group’s debut album and building on them while throwing a few new tricks in. While the soaring Radio and (I Broke My Back) Disappointing You could easily have sat on Role Models’ debut (and are of a similarly high quality), the Stooges/Dead Boys style chaos of Got No Time is the first of a few curveballs on this album, and when it’s followed by the heartfelt Westerberg indebted lament of Bullshit Corner (including, shock horror, a horn section!), it’s pretty apparent we’re dealing with another stormer of an album here. The muscular pop-punk of Wanted To Be Wanted and Goodbye And Hooray (the latter featuring Chris Barry of early ’90s NYC punk legends Pillbox) keep up the high standards, while the tuneful Pete Shelley-esque Sleep Tight is a definite high point.
The Lights On Your Road sees Rich Rags’ love of Tom Petty coming to the fore (think King’s Highway or Learning To Fly) while the Waldos-style No Shame and the Stones/Dolls strut with a more reflective undertone of Guest List sign this one off in fine style. Second album nerves? Not on this one guv.
Is it really only twelve months since the Role Models put their debut out? There's a lot of bands who'd struggle to put an EP's worth of new material together in that time and it's to this band's credit that they've not only followed things up with their sophomore so quickly, but that they've come up with a record that's every bit as much of a stormer as their debut was. I think I can safely say that when we come to compile our best records of 2016 that Role Models will be in the running for a second consecutive year.