For a band synonymous with catchy guitar hooks, massive sing-alongs and mammoth anthems, You Me At Six failed to meet expectations with their last album. While you can’t knock a band for trying something different and moving with the times, last year’s ‘Night People’ just didn’t do much for them except for leave a trawl of disappointed fans.
The catchy hooks and blistering choruses of the past were replaced by a sound that was flat and disillusioned from a band that seemed like they’d lost their way.
Just over a year and a half later, the band are back with an intent to right their wrongs with their sixth album, aptly titled ‘VI’, and it seems as if another change in sound is exactly what they needed to launch themselves back to the top.
Straight off the bat, it’s clear that the band have got their mojo back from the blistering opener, ‘Fast Forward’. The gritty guitars, swaggering bass, and Josh Franceschi‘s trademark vocals are all reminiscent of previous efforts, but the added bonus of atmospheric synths makes for a welcome change and a thrilling introduction.
Swiftly following up is ‘Straight To My Head’. With this arena anthem, it’s obviously apparent that they never lost their ability to write a chorus big enough to fill stadiums. The jilted bass through the verses leads to a chorus led by sing-alongs chants of “I wanna be where you are.”
It’s clear that ‘3AM’ was picked as the lead single because it epitomises the vibe and theme of the record. The disco-indie floor filler is one of ‘VI’‘s highlights, with its slinky guitar riffs and distorted bass lines, even if lyrically it’s one of the weakest cuts here.
The same can also be said for sparkly indie-pop number, ‘Back Again’. These are tracks that sound like they could be on a Vampire Weekend record, but You Me At Six give them a little bit more of a bite.
Unfortunately, the obscurity of ‘IOU’ may prove a little too much for some. It sounds like a bad The White Stripes song that was an unused b-side from ‘Night People’, and frankly has no place on the record. You can throw closer ‘Losing You’ in the same pot too, with the over-produced and over-synthesised track being the worst thing on the whole album.
After the band’s failed attempt to musically evolve with ‘Night People’, another dud record could have moved the band towards the edge of irrelevancy. Luckily, though it’s far from perfect, ‘VI’ is the best You Me At Six record since 2011’s ‘Sinners Never Sleep’. Even though they’re both musically worlds apart, it’s evident that the band have a lot left to give.
Following a questionable year or so off the back of ‘Night People’, ‘VI’ is an album that proves You Me At Six had plenty to salvage, and that they don’t have to stick to past glories to keep doing what they do best.