Review Summary: You Me At Six try to mature their sound, but fail to make the distance
With their first two albums, 2008’s Take Off Your Colours
and 2010’s Hold Me Down
, You Me At Six (especially with the latter) established themselves as one of the UK’s biggest pop-punk bands. Big, catchy pop-py choruses (see “Underdog”) and songs about love got them support slots with the likes of Paramore and We The Kings. Their music didn’t bring anything new to the table, but it was harmless and generally enjoyable.
Now, however, they want to change that; or so they claim. Determined to rebrand themselves as a rock band, rather than just a pop-punk one, You Me At Six have tried to rebrand their sound. Take their old one, add thicker harmonies, slightly less catchy vocals, the odd F-bomb here and there, a couple of guest appearances from the band’s metalcore buddies, an album title with the word “Sinners” in it and an artwork representing that, and you have You Me At Six’s third album, Sinners Never Sleep
. It almost makes you want to ruffle their hair and go “Aww, bless
Despite all these appearances though, You Me At Six still seem to be attached to their old pop-punk sound. The power chords, big choruses (“Loverboy”) and soppy lyrics from before are still here; in spades. In short, it feels as if Sinners Never Sleep
is representing You Me At Six in the middle of an identity crisis. Although they appear to want to mature their sound, they don’t seem to be sure how to go about it. This leaves the album with no real purpose or aim. When You Me At Six want to go for a more rock-orientated part, they take away the upbeat, excitable nature of their first two albums but don’t do much with what’s left, leaving an empty shell of a song with nothing but thick power chords and half-arsed melodies. When they try to revert back to their pop-punk sound, it gets restrained from unleashing its full potential in case it compromises You Me At Six’s attempts to renovate themselves. This leaves the album, as a whole, pretty boring. When they want to go for a more rock-y edge they don’t develop it, and their pop sentimentalities are stifled.
As a whole the album feels stale and tacky- in some places (most notably “Time Is Money”) downright laughable. It’s only on the rare occasions that You Me At Six marry their two sounds together perfectly that the album’s full potential can be heard. Take, for example, “Little Death”, the album’s highlight. Brimming with energy and catchy hooks but spicing it with a harsher, darker edge, this is what the rest of the album could have, but failed, to achieve. Other songs almost reach this balance, but fall just short. “Bite My Tongue” and “Reckless” both have great hooks and the heavy edge, but the latter holds them back rather than working in unison to amplify the power of the song.
In some places, Sinners Never Sleep
delights. “Little Death” is its gem, a short 3m11s piece of music that overshadows practically the whole of the rest of the album. “When We Were Younger” is a slow, sad yet pristine song which although out of place with the rest of the songs, shows yet more of You Me At Six’s potential and brings the album to a great close. On the whole though, the album Sinners Never Sleep
seems musically indecisive, making it, bar a few (too few) glorious moments, boring.