If you, like me, had a scene-kid phase at one point during puberty in which you’d first discovered the world of pop-punk/alternative rock bands (Paramore, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low and Panic! At the Disco all came under this category, so you’ll know who you are), you’ll feel the same sense of nostalgia at the resurgence of You Me At Six with their fifth album Night People, released this January.
However, if you also, like me, grew out of the phase and didn’t exactly kept tabs on their every endeavour since the era of ‘Underdog’, ‘The Consequence’ or even ‘Loverboy’, you might be sceptical towards what they could possibly offer in 2017 – after all, in terms of previous exhibitions of their musical capacity, much of their last album Cavalier Youth couldn’t be said to uphold the remarkable standards we first loved. However, regardless of whether you’re a nostalgic soul or want to bury your emo-phase guilty pleasures somewhere inaccessible, trust me: you’ll want to be caught up with this one.
say hello to your past neighbours who made it big, 80% of the Exeter student population
Although some of these classic bands listed above either lost a few members, took a hiatus, or disbanded completely (R.I.P. MCR), You Me At Six has stayed intact; partially keeping sight of their pop-rock roots, this album presents their fans with a lens with which to view the slightly darker, yet more mature route they’ve decided to take whilst they were under the radar. Formed in Weybridge, Surrey – say hello to your past neighbours who made it big, 80% of the Exeter student population – the group released a first EP in 2006, then their debut album Take Off Your Colours in 2008, won “Best British Band” at the Kerrang! Awards in 2011, and showed no signs of stopping. That is, until they’d established themselves as a well-polished, popular five-piece capable of branching out their sound to sophisticatedly reflect their own evolution as artists.
With a touch of a Royal Blood vibe mixed with new self-assurance, the flamboyant entrance of title track ‘Night People’ will certainly surprise fans with its rock’n’roll guitar riffs and bluesy tones, instantly cementing itself as a future crowd-pleaser, along with equally electrifying tracks ‘Plus One’ and ‘Swear’, setting hopes for some incredible crowd-pleasing future performances. Structurally, their tracks haven’t changed too much – often containing simple and repetitive choruses, yet still irresistibly addictive. Nonetheless, lyrically the tracks seem to display more maturity and self-reflection than before, seen in ‘Brand New’ (“If your past calls, don’t pick it up/It’s got nothing new to say”), as well emphasising the darker, grittier tones of the album in ‘Spell It Out’ (“Should I spell it out for you?/No one here is bulletproof”); frontman Josh Franceschi’s refreshing vocals take a more haunting turn in this track, paired with the transition of softer strums into an intense guitar riff and drumbeat.
they’ve matured – Both musically and mentally
In contrast, ‘Take On The World’ matches the poignancy of Sinners Never Sleep’s ‘Crash’; a raw and innocent love ballad, softening the album’s pace. ‘Can’t Hold Back’ and ‘Brand New’ arguably take a seat back as the more forgettable tunes of the album, but can still be commended for certain aspects, such as pulsing build-ups in the bridge and confident vocals. With the emotional rock ballad and fan-favourite ‘Give’ finishing off the album smoothly, it’s then easy to imagine a stadium of entranced fans singing along to the fresh new crop of catchy choruses, alongside the classic old tunes that directed our attention to You Me At Six in the first place.
Although I enjoyed the album after the first listen, it wasn’t till the third and fourth listens that I established favourites and started appreciating the seamless transitions between an assortment of (mostly) distinctive songs that seemed to complement one another. A tell-tale sign of musical progress here, however, is the way in which the tracks from Night People are effortlessly distinguishable from that of previous albums’. They’ve matured – both musically and mentally – and it definitely shows.
With a mostly well-refined melange of crowd-pleasing rock tunes, emotive ballads, and an experimental mix of genres to create an overall heavier tone, there’s no doubt that You Me At Six have concocted an exciting album that will surprise, if not captivate old fans, and make an impression on a wave of new listeners. It’s a You Me At Six showing that they’re back, they’ve got some slick new tricks, and they’re here to stay.