For the last two years Sublime with Rome has been nothing more than a glorified cover band, and now they are finally releasing some original material that seeks to prove new front man Rome Ramirez’s capabilities as a songwriter. Of course bands have replaced lead singers before, but let’s be honest here and admit that Bradley Nowell was Sublime. This isn’t to demean Eric Wilson or Bud Gaugh, or to say that they didn’t have a contributing role in Sublime, but the truth is Sublime died with Nowell and Yours Truly proves it.
Yours Truly begins with the closest thing you will find to classic Sublime on this album, and just so happens to be the lead single “Panic”. The mimicry of this track is actually quite impressive with the classic ska punk horns blaring atop of fast paced guitar upstrokes. Here, and on track “My World”, the rushed style ramblings in the vain of songs like “Same in the End” is where you can really hear the Nowell influence and a haunting resemblance from Ramirez. While Rome struggles to maintain similar vocal stylings with classic Sublime, he is completely on par with capturing the musical vibes throughout by incorporating the expected reggae rock feel while also constructing songs like “Paper Cuts” that builds off a 90’s punk theme that you could swear you heard on Tony Hawk Pro Skater over 12 years ago.
Almost exactly at the halfway point is where the quality of the songs begins to decline. This is where we start to see a departure from the imitation of Nowell and begin to see what Rome Ramirez has to offer in his own voice. Unfortunately, it’s this moment where this album ceases to sound like a Sublime record and much more like Pepper or Slightly Stoopid. Taking on a much more pop oriented feel, tracks “Same Old Situation”, “Take it or Leave it”, and “You Better Listen” might as well be the same song and feature Ramirez crooning lyrically, over troubles with his lady and love in a very standard kind of way. These songs ultimately lack the authentic streetwise insight and relatable storytelling that made Nowell so captivating.
Of course what young musician wouldn’t want to front one of their most influential bands? If these songs were to stand alone as a completely new artist they would be a collection of upbeat fun summer beach songs. Unfortunately, when you build your career on the back of another man’s work everything is comparative. So, do I think these songs will hold the same weight 15 years down the road like “Santeria” or “What I Got”? Absolutely not.
Album Highlights: Panic, Mudera, My World, Paper Cuts
Album Low Points: Take it or Leave it, Spun