A slice of tremolo-heavy classic rock filtered through the lens of the gunslinging American West, REMO DRIVE’s third LP, A PORTRAIT OF AN UGLY MAN, is in many ways a return to form for the Minnesota-based indie-rock duo. The album, with its acrobatic guitar work, deeply self-referential lyrics and off-the-walls energy, calls back to the dextrous, eccentric sound that helped the band –brothers Erik (vocals, guitar) and Stephen (bass) Paulson –explode into the underground with their debut album, 2017’sGreatestHits. And, like the band’s earliest material, it took shape in an equally unassuming place: their parents’ basement.When the Paulsons stumbled across a Tascam recording desk on Facebook Marketplace in 2019, they thought it might make a nice starting point to demo songs for their then-forthcoming third LP. But $250 and a few weeks later, they found themselves fully entrenched in making the actual album itself. Not only that, but the safety and security of their parents’ home provided a welcome respite for the brothers, who have learned they’re most creative without a ticking clock and prying eyes peeking over their shoulders
“Our workflow is naturally different from what most producers and studios like to do,” Erik explains. “We take things in our own weird approach and order. There’s a sense of privacy working at home. It doesn’t feel like you’re working with the door open during the incubation process.”The resulting album, due out June 26 on Epitaph, finds the band truly in their element –both physically and sonically. Whereas the Paulsons filtered their buoyant songwriting through the concise lens of storytellers like Bruce Springsteen and The Killers onNatural,EverydayDegradation,APortraitofanUglyManis more spontaneous, bolstered by the same charm and levity that madeGreatestHitssuch an underground favorite.“I wanted to get back to playing guitar the way I used to, and then throw songwriting on top of that,” Erik says. “On the last album, I approached playing guitar in a more songwriter-y way. I had really scaled it back so it wouldn’t be as hard for me to sing and play simultaneously, but the guitar is way more forward again now.”Self-produced and mixed by the duo,APortraitofanUglyManfeels all at once familiar and fresh: The basement breathed a looseness into songs like “If I’ve Ever Looked Too Deep In Thought” and “Ode to Joy,” while the freedom of the sessions left the band able to explore the next evolution of their sound.