The Surrey quintet continue on the mission to find their sound on their fourth album; Cavalier Youth.
You Me At Six’s sound has constantly been changing since their début album ‘Take Off Your Colours in 2008; with their last album ‘Sinners Never Sleep taking the darker music route, which many pop-punk bands have been trying to do recently. With Cavalier Youth the band has stepped away from those dark themes and have taken their music to a place which slightly mimics their second album ‘Hold Me Down’, along with a new place which regrettably is more indie-rock sounding.
The album’s opener, ‘Too Young To Feel This Old’, is definitely a great song as it warms you up to the beginning of the record, with a calming guitar riff that would fit nicely into any song on Hold Me Down. However once we have been welcomed, and – lead singer – Josh Franceschi’s vocals pour in, something seems slightly odd. It’s not that the singer’s voice is somewhat different, because his vocals have been constantly changing throughout his career; it’s that his voice sounds so different in that first verse that I thought it was a different band playing. Thankfully the rest of the track, especially the breakdown, sounds like classic You Me At Six; and has opened up the album on a high note.
‘Lived A Lie’ was the first single that was released from Cavalier Youth, and was also what gave me the first clue that they were, although still a rock band, moving more over to the Indie side of things. Don’t get me wrong it is an enjoyable song, and one which I am sure will get a great reaction from a live crowd; but it just did not sound like one of their tunes. In a way it did scream You Me At Six in every way possible, but something just appeared to be missing and it is so hard to put my finger on what it was. It is not a bad song though, and Lived A Lie does fit in with this album well.
I am trying in the hardest way to not make this sound like the only reason I am slightly disappointed with this album is because it is more indie-rock themed, because that is not the reason. I just think that the band – completed by Max Helyer on guitar, Chris Miller on guitar, Dan Flint on drums and Matt Barnes on bass – were able to do so well in their own genre – whether that be pop-punk or rock – that there is no need for them to try to change that. Why not carry on down the same road that they already know and improve on that, rather than changing genres.
As the album proceeds onwards we get a feel for the sound of the songs, and if there is one song that sums up the entire album it would be ‘Fresh Start Fever’; the second single released from Cavalier Youth. It is a heart-pounding, fist-pumping, lung-screaming anthem that is going to get a tremendous sing-a-long at the band’s live shows. From the dramatic piano opening, through the foot-tapping chorus and to the climax the song just keeps on giving and never lets up. It is a power ballad all the way.
However much the band want a sound that comes across as more mature, there are always going to be aspects of their original material found in their albums; and ‘Room To Breathe is an example of that. With its raw guitar riff and Franceschi’s rough shouting vocals, this track sounds like a sequel to the likewise sounding ‘Tigers and Sharks’ from Take Off Your Colours. It is obvious that the band want to show that they have grown up, and Cavalier Youth shows that; but it is great that they still bring some of the same sound from the songs that got them their first group of followers.
Just as the previous track takes the listeners back to the earliest of the band’s work, ‘Win Some, Lose Some’ enters the album with a dark melodic guitar riff that mirrors the songs of Sinners Never Sleep, in fact the entire song could fit right into place on that record. The next couple of songs, including tracks ‘Hope For The Best’ and ‘Love Me Like You Used To’, simply portray what it is that the band do best; write thought-provoking lyrics, catchy tunes and fast-paced choruses that will have their fans singing at the top of their lungs in their bedrooms.
‘Be Who You Are’ shows a completely different side to the band, older fans will know that Franceschi has always sang songs from his heart and has no problem letting people know that. However this track sounds too much like a pop song, and I generally have a problem with interludes. When I purchase an album by a band I really like and in the middle of the tracks there is an instrumental song, it riles me up a bit because I would much rather have a full-length song by the band that I can sing along to.
After the album took a slight detour from what I would call ‘You Me At Six music’, it gets back on track with the penultimate song on the record, ‘Carpe Diem’. As with the album opener the song draws you in with a comfortable catchy guitar riff – along with the drums and vocals. It is just an enjoyable easy-listening song which urges you to want to get up and dance, all the way through the choruses and up to the very end. Carpe Diem has been so well placed on the track-listing just as ‘The Dilemma’ was at the end of Sinners Never Sleep, they both pick their albums up from previous grim feeling songs.
Cavalier Youth ends in a way that appears to be tradition on a You Me At Six album; at least from the last three albums. It concludes with the same deep slow-toned sound on ‘Wild Ones’ which, just as ‘Fireworks’ and ‘When We Were Younger’ did on the preceding albums, looks at a topic quite close to the singer’s heart. In the past he has sung about letting the one you love be free and wanting your parents to be proud of you, once again on Wild Ones the topic is love; and it appears to be about the way you feel when you are with that special person.
It would have been easy to have just listened to this album by one of my favourite bands and said everything that I liked about it, but there were just too many weak points; and with there being such high anticipation surrounding the release of this album, it really needed to be more of a hard hitter that blew everyone away.
People keep saying that on Cavalier Youth You Me At Six have finally found their sound, personally I think their sound was found a long time ago…and hopefully sometime soon they will go back to it.
Cavalier Youth is out now.
Listen to: Fresh Start Fever, Love Me Like You Used To and Carpe Diem.
The full track-listing is as follows:
Too Young To Feel This Old
Lived A Lie
Fresh Start Fever
Forgive And Forget
Room To Breathe
Win Some, Lose Some
Hope For The Best
Love Me Like You Used To
Be Who You Are