With some of its pickings amongst the best they have ever recorded and others fading into grey, bland anguish, this is You Me At Six's most conflicting record to date.
At this point, acclaimed British rock band You Me At Six has managed to compress an entire aged band’s career – mapped from humble Surrey roots to stadium sell-outs, complete with dramatic ups and downs, five studio albums, a quick hiatus, and even soundtracking a rollercoaster – into just 12 years. Now, as one of the biggest British rock bands to grace the world’s stages in recent years, the Surrey-born quintet brings a new, raw sound that is a certain far cry from Take Off Your Colours.
The album’s “direction,” to use a term that they told The Edge they refrain from using in relation to this record, reveals itself immediately as something wedged between the biting anger of third album Sinners Never Sleep and its buoyant follow-up Cavalier Youth. Yet, whilst the resulting blend of emotion is welcome, the collation of songs itself seems a little muddled.
Diving straight into its eponymous lead single, Night People begins on a strong note. Although the track, with a crackling chorus bordering on inaudible and verses which can only be described as hypnotizingly dissident, demands a few listens to adjust to, ‘Plus One‘ feels to achieve the very sense that ‘Night People’ was aiming for. A buzzing spark plug of energy, it sits as the record’s first high point. And with raw vocals and a heart-thumping backdrop of drum fills and rippling bass riffs, it’s one of the highest peaks of the entire album.
Filler is a seemingly unavoidable commonplace which Night People unfortunately proves to be little exception to, often positioning such as a string of the ostensibly endless. ‘Heavy Soul,’ ‘Brand New,’ and ‘Can’t Hold Back’ form a lacklustre backbone, delving into a realm of trivial romantic angst. Not only are they forgettable, but it’s impossible not to let them bleed into each other. Memory holds only one recollection of these songs – which one precisely I simply would not be able to tell. If it weren’t for the few remaining peaks of some of You Me At Six’s best efforts, it would be all too easy to assume Night People has, for whatever reason, taken a sharp slump.
Somewhat reminiscent of the Sinners Never Sleep era in the midst of the ballooning outcries of starry-eyed anguish, feisty single ‘Swear’ comes as a happy surprise at the midpoint, sounding by far the most determined of the Night People pickings. It even captures a couple of glimpses of the raw, unhindered vocals of Take Off Your Colours and sophomore album Hold Me Down from frontman Josh Franceschi. (Check out our review of their recent Southampton show here, in which ‘Swear’ drew excellent crowd feedback.) The record then finds room to close on a stunning high with ‘Give,’ an emotional number that rides on a stark contrast to its half-hearted spiritual siblings. Starting as soft and small, it plunges into Franceschi’s wails, edging on true pain (“I’ve been wasting all these nights trying to keep you off my mind”) and vaulting guitar riffs like raindrops on water. It is a dizzying end to a conflicting disjuncture of an album – but one just enough to help save it.
Night People is released on January 6th via Infectious Music