Review Summary: You Me At Six are back with a new release but the only expectations it will live up to are those of 14-year-old girls.
Over a year ago I reviewed this British Pop Punk bands debut album. I remember saying that their next release wouldn't bring much more than simple reminders of Take Off Your Colours. After listening to the album for the last few days I have concluded that I was right. However, You Me At Six have slightly adjusted themselves to the point where they seem to sit comfortably with their style. It's no real improvement, but it does make for an easier listen. With their gaining popularity since the release of the debut, there's a lot expected from their fans and no doubt their hardcore fans (mainly 14 year old British girls) are guaranteed to be happy with this release.
The album has everything you would expect from a standard Pop-Punk release. It has the catchy choruses, the less than creative guitar riffs, the bass guitar that makes a subtle appearance now and again and the mediocre drumming. The vocals have always been one of You Me At Six's strong points, and it's great to see that vocalist Josh Franceschi has improved with this record. Although it seems that You Me At Six have have fallen into and I doubt they ever break this new habit, is that it can be hard to tell one song from another, and when bands go like that, it's hard to come out of it. Many of songs can seem boring and there are only a few highlight points where it feels like this record is going somewhere. Songs like 'Stay With Me' and 'Fireworks' seem to be set aside from the rest of the album, showing off You Me At Six's potential that still awaits to be unleashed.
The lyrics are centred around the break-up of lead singer Josh and his girlfriend in the past year, and as much as it adds a bit more emotion and feeling into some of the songs, hearing references to it in every single song makes it an overall tiring listen. There doesn't seem to be much more depth to his lyrics than the whole she-broke-up-with-me-it-sucks-but-maybe-it's-for-the-best sort of thing here. It's also a shame to see that You Me At Six have lost their 'fun' side with this release. No longer are their lyrics upbeat and occasionally serious, but instead, they are typically depressing, only disguised by upbeat pop-punk riffs; a forumla which has been done a million and one times in recent years.
Like every band should do with any album they write, You Me At Six have tried to progress themselves with these songs but all that is shown is a bland attempt at writing something with feeling and unfortunately for them, Josh's heartbreak is holding this band down (excuse the pun). Although the album does have it's good points, they are few and far between. Sometimes clever lyrics pop up such as "Three little words, and eight letters late, that would have worked on me yesterday" (Fireworks), but are then killed by sub-par and failed attempts at being clever with lines like "You're not on my list of things to do because I've already done you" (Playing The Blame Game). Sometimes the guitars stand out, but it's rare and only seem to appear in the intro's of the songs on Hold Me Down.
It's a shame that they couldn't pursue what they were onto with the highlights there, because it might have just dragged this album out of the cliche pop-punk trend it has fallen directly into. I'm afraid I still have to stand by my opinion that these guys won't make it much further than they already have and I believe that it could be all downhill from here, but who knows, maybe that unleashed potential will be released in the form of their next album, on second thought, maybe not.