Artist: Remo Drive

Album: A Portrait of An Ugly Man

Label: Epitaph Records

Rating: 8/10

Words: Woody Woodworth


We are well into the pandemic now and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. Luckily for us, music is still being released, now with an emphasis on doing it for the fans. For the new Remo Drive record, A Portrait of An Ugly Man the dance-punk duo bring a multitude of influences and undertones that gives any listener comfortability and familiarity while also broadening their musical horizons.

While somehow blending sounds from The Killers and the Bee Gees in their vocals and undertones (respectfully), the two-piece move to a dissonant bridge with post-bridge ska and horn additions.

The album opens up with “A Guide to Live By” immediately giving the listeners a nice funk intro followed by intense, bright pop rock piano paired with a guitar. While somehow blending sounds from The Killers and the Bee Gees in their vocals and undertones (respectfully), the two-piece move to a dissonant bridge with post-bridge ska and horn additions. Ending on more dissonant chords, this first track gives a glimpse of what to expect on the rest of the album.

In “Dead Man,” the listener is treated to a bass-highlighted intro that quickly shifts into an elevator music feel. THey even mix what sounds like a theremin, used in Sci-Fi movies mostly, that mixes with the guitars well. Moving into more bass grooves and hitting a 60s beach theme, the track then ends with a nice calming outro.

“If I’ve Ever Looked Too Deep in Thought,” “True Romance Lives” and “A Flower and a Weed” are the hype songs of the record. Between high energy and fast-paced intensity, these are the songs that get you moving. “True Romance” is set up perfectly for a classic rock concert that also showcases piano inclusion mixed with a powerful vocal range. While  “If I’ve Ever Looked Too Deep in Thought,” moves from a violin intro into raw harmonies that mix with more dissonance that eventually moves into a dual vocal bridge, releasing all that pent up energy. “A Flower and a Weed” shows off more intense vocals than the rest of the album with dual harmonies and another strong vocal range. The highlight of the song is an audible “Yelp” followed by a blistering post-chorus.

In a world where all certainty has been thrown out the door, Remo Drive have delivered a powerful, yet beautifully created album.

The boys, built in the suburbs of Minnesota, give more of an unorthodox look at how they put this album together. A theme throughout is a surfer / beach sound, highlighted in “Star Worship” and “The Night I Kidnapped Remo Drive.” Reaching into the wide world of genres, they pull out sounds from the 60s, classical music and even jazzy tones that are spread throughout the entire record. 

“The Ugly Man Sings” and “Ode to Joy 2” bring a more somber note to the album, introducing a slight ballad feel. In “The Ugly Man Sings,” the track starts out more somber, but quickly moves to a fast-pace verse. The pre-chorus gives off chanting type vocals while a mid-song interlude sets you up in a nice jazzy club with piano and high-hat focus. In “Ode to Joy 2,” the ballad comes back and merges with the somber soundscapes.

In a world where all certainty has been thrown out the door, Remo Drive have delivered a powerful, yet beautifully created album. A Portrait of An Ugly Man is out now via Epitaph Records.

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