At the start of the decade, Sleeping With Sirens were burning bright. However, it seemed from 2013’s ‘Feel’ onwards, that though the band weren’t afraid to experiment and explore different sounds, they ended up burning out and losing their identity in the process.
By 2017’s ‘Gossip’, the band had walked through the golden gates of major label backing, and, not only that, managed to attain one frankly unparalleled opportunity from their contemporaries – their track ‘Legends’ was used as an official song in the Olympics. Yep, that massive worldwide sports event. Success, however, does not equate to happiness. A cliche and overused statement? Perhaps, but it’s one that Sleeping With Sirens have confessed to have lived.
Deciding to return to their rougher around the edges beginnings and to confront the darkness they were hiding throughout the creation and touring cycle of ‘Gossip’, the band signed up with Sumerian Records – a label renowned for taking on heavier and more progressive acts – for what is seemingly a rebirth, ‘How It Feels To Be Lost’.
‘Leave It All Behind’, the record’s lead single, enters as the perfect opener to set the stage for what is very much the return of Sleeping With Sirens. Vocalist Kellin Quinn‘s raspy screams enter the frame fairly quickly, something that was almost entirely absent across ‘Gossip’, and it’s evident early that they band have clung back onto their roots with conviction.
Lyrically, Quinn said he was confronting some dark times in his life over the past couple of years, and it shows. The record’s title-track holds a message of perseverance, withstanding betrayal yet remaining strong with a soaring statement of endurance. ‘Break Me Down’ has a similar presence, at times approaching near-hardcore territory, thanks in part to Gabe Barham‘s pummelling work behind the kit. ‘Medicine’ is also a notable rager.
‘Blood Lines’ touches on similar themes to that on ‘A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son’ (from their 2011 LP, ‘Let’s Cheers To This’), with glitchy effects on the vocals in its opener, complete with a subtle and thrumming bass, before guitarists Jack Fowler and Nick Martin come crashing in with massively thick chords. ‘Ghost’ has layers of plodding electronica in its opening moments, twinkling taps of a xylophone in the mid-section, and a string section that helps to bring the song to a hair-rising climax.
Still, though their efforts to return to the past without compromising on progression is mostly a success, there are moments that feel far too familiar and safe. For example, ‘Never Enough’ could easily have nestled on the track list of their 2011 breakthrough sophomore LP, ‘Let’s Cheers To This’, and its feature from Benji Madden (Good Charlotte) just comes across as a little redundant.
It’s not a product of taking several steps back, however. It’s the blend of their roots and dashes of their dabbles in the world of pop and pop-rock in recent years which makes ‘How It Feels To Be Lost’ such a return to form without sounding forced or resulting a contrived record – a pit fall they could’ve easily plummeted deep into.
After a handful of years of fumbling, looking for a full sense of direction and a place to call their own, Sleeping With Sirens evidently had to feel lost before they could begin to feel found. ‘How It Feels To Be Lost’ is an excellent showcase of the band’s desire to return to their post-hardcore roots whilst not trying to ride on their former successes.