Review Summary: More Roundhead than Cavalier
The word ‘cavalier’ has been given as a name to many things – an infamous Cleveland-based basketball team, a minor super-villain from the Batman comics and even a flying boat, lost at sea in 1939. But before all of these, the Cavaliers were the Royalists who fought for King Charles in the English Civil War. They were notorious, they were extravagant and they were frivolous. They did what they wanted when they wanted, without a thought of the consequences. They were, in essence, everything You Me At Six’s latest album is not.
You see, once You Me At Six were exciting. They were youthful and enigmatic, and they may not have been particularly innovative or special – but they had energy. But on Cavalier Youth You Me At Six don’t sound the slightest bit youthful; the whole album just sounds tired. The choruses fail to pack a punch, the riffs are generic and it’s hard not to grow tired of the repetitive “woah”’s and wonder whether the band still even care at all.
Now, You Me At Six are a band made up entirely of members in their early to mid twenties. They have the rest of their lives ahead of them, and yet from start (“Too Young To Feel This Old”) to finish (“Wild Ones”, featuring the line “are we gonna live forever? No.”) Cavalier Youth feels like an album by a group of retired, decrepit musicians who are wasting away. Compare this to David Bowie, almost three times the age of Franceschi, still releasing exciting material and chanting lines such as “I’d rather be high, I’d rather be flying...” and it’s obvious that You Me At Six aren’t exactly playing the ‘cavalier’ music the title would suggest.
It may be unfair to call Cavalier Youth a bad album, because none of the songs come across as awful – just uninspired. Some of the songs could even be classed as good; namely the catchy lead single “Lived A Lie” and the slightly anthemic “Forgive and Forget”. Unfortunately, these few exceptions aren’t enough to prevent the album from bleeding into one long, tuneless, insipid drag.
So, perhaps Cavalier Youth would be better compared to the Cavalier’s opponents – the Roundheads. They didn’t live for the moment like the Cavalier’s. They weren’t exotic or profligate or reckless. They were moral, they wore plain clothing and they always stayed in line – always did what they were told. And that is essentially everything that this album is because, like the Roundheads, it is bland. It is mundane. And it’s not even necessarily a bad thing: the Roundheads won the civil war after all.