Greatest Hits is the impressively hyperactive debut record from Remo Drive. This fresh, young band has taken on the daunting task of fanning the flickering flames of ye old emo-rock ember; they gracefully succeed in keeping the torch lit with every sad step of the way. From the boyish Saves the Day inspired vocal delivery and exuberant Weezer-isms, these guys craft a record that hits all of the familiar beats of emo classics, delivering excellent fan service to long time followers of the genre.
Remo Drive is a band that has really done their homework in examining what made bands like Mineral, Jawbreaker, Weezer, etc. work so well. Every track features tight performances with exciting chord progressions that I could only imagine are as much fun to play as they are to listen to.
“Art School” kicks the album off with Erik Paulson, singer and guitarist, reminiscing on his lonesome time in art school, building to a tambourine infested climax before evaporating into the next track. “Hunting for Sport” and “Crash Test Rating” are tense, melancholic songs that both have killer vocal performances which could have been stolen right out of a Knapsack recording. “Stawberita” breaks up the tension with it’s sunnier guitar lead and supremely danceable breakdown before flowing into “Summertime.” This is more of a heavy track with a sunburnt baseline and melody that recalls Weezer’s “El Scorcho.” Side two draws from grunge influences with “Trying 2 Fool U,” a fast paced ode to skateboarding titled “Eat Shit,” and the barn burning single “Yer Killin Me.” “I’m My Own Doctor” and “Name Brand” round out the final two tracks. While the first is a deftly handled ode to self medication and emotional hypochondria, “Name Brand” cleverly pokes fun at the idea of ‘adulting’ and drinking expensive coffee.
The juxtaposition of the two themes on “Name Brand” is a motif that highlights their strengths and what makes their music so enjoyable. They put the ‘fun’ in ‘self-deprecation’ and the ‘mosh pit’ in ‘depression.’ Remo Drive’s biting sense of humor, fused with impressively mature song composition, is how they manage to cleverly tow the line between incisive and campy.
The hilariously self destructive lyrics on “Yer Killin Me” about “smoking fat ass blunts ’til I start choking” or “cigarettes so I die slowly” are critically self aware and oddly triumphant, not to mention the jam-out breakdown occurring towards the end of this track- and many others- being a fantastic and unexpected subversion of formula. The comparison of being a safe bet in a relationship to a car that has a “four star crash test rating” on “Crash Test Rating” is extremely clever, yet heart-wrenching. “I’m My Own Doctor” has Erik comparing the use of a Neti pot to draining emotional problems that are far more complicated than a common cold, which makes the angst that much more real, palpable, and still somewhat humorous.
Greatest Hits is a debut that displays a hell of a lot of promise. Despite the fact they tend to wear their influences on their sleeve a bit too much, they do it ever so fashionably. Remo Drive has released an album that obviously relies heavily on the nostalgia of the genre from which it was born, yet has the aesthetic of an old classic from the era. Greatest Hits could easily be passed off as a mixtape from the bygone age, but to its credit, it doesn’t sound all that ‘bygone’. This is nostalgia music for sure, however it feels like a new relic, something just as warm and inviting as an old record from a genre you used to be a lot more into. Remo Drive radiates the comfortability of rediscovering a record you exhausted in high school and makes you wonder why you stopped killing it in the first place.
Top Tier: “Art School,” “Yer Killin Me,” “Crash Test Rating,” “Summertime,” “Trying 2 Fool U,” “I’m My Own Doctor”
Mid Tier: “Eat Shit”