Review Summary: Sleeping With Sirens attempts to resolve their recent identity crisis with a return to form, yielding inconsistent results.
To put it lightly, Sleeping With Sirens has been a polarizing band for the last six years. While they were never universally beloved, their first two albums left a significant impact on the post-hardcore scene of the early 2010’s. Sadly, they went through a bit of an identity crisis with the three albums that followed. After their last release, Gossip, was panned by just about everybody, it was time for a change. Lead vocalist Kellin Quinn promised for heavier music months before the release of How it Feels to Be Lost, and now the question must be asked: Can Sleeping With Sirens correct their mistakes and become a good band again?
First things first, Quinn was a man of his word; the entirety of the album feels like a rock album, and has completely abandoned the poppiness of Gossip. Songs like ‘Break Me Down’ and ‘Another Nightmare’ feature some of the heaviest moments that SWS has put together in years. While the band behind Quinn is still nothing spectacular, the guitar work is above average, and the rhythm section does just enough to keep up. As for Quinn himself, if you were never a fan of his unique voice to begin with, you’re probably not going to be converted. However, the album is a lot of fun to listen to, especially if you’re a fan of Sleeping With Siren’s early work. ‘P.S. Missing You’ (despite the cringey name) and ‘Ghost’ feel like they could have come straight from 2011.
While the album’s overall sound is refreshing, it isn’t without its flaws, and some of them are pretty massive. The biggest one of all has to be the weak songwriting. Again, Sleeping With Sirens has never been the most talented or original band to grace the music scene, but some of these songs are laughably written. Take for example, ‘Agree to Disagree’ which has a decent enough beginning, only to be squandered by the teenage-quality lyrics that follow. Other songs like ‘Medicine (Devil in My Head),’ and ‘Never Enough’ (which for some reason has a pretty awkward feature from Benji Madden) are also made forgettable because of weak writing. This is especially unfortunate considering that songwriting was one of Gossip’s worst qualities, and it seems to have had minimal improvement since then. Aside from the lackluster songwriting, it would have also been nicer if they had truly commit to going back to basics, but instead it feels like the band is torn between striving for radio play on rock stations or returning to their roots.
All things considered, it’s good to see Sleeping With Sirens get back on track. It isn’t the best album of the year, nor is it even album of the week, but it still manages to be leaps and bounds ahead of Gossip, and is probably their best album in the last 5 years. If you haven’t heard Sleeping With Sirens in the last few years, and you have 40 minutes of free time, give it a shot, you might be surprised.
HITS: Ghost, Another Nightmare, P.S. Missing You, Break Me Down
MISSES: Agree to Disagree, Medicine (Devil in My Head), Never Enough (ft. Benji Madden)