YOU ME AT SIX dust them­selves off and get their mojo back on re­turn-to-form sixth al­bum

Kerrang! (UK) - - Reviews -

Even by name, You Me At Six’s sixth record marks it­self with sig­nif­i­cance for the

Wey­bridge quin­tet. But no-one, not even the band, could have pre­dicted just how im­por­tant mak­ing it would prove.

Un­der dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances, they could have re­mained in cruise con­trol, as they rolled thought­lessly and freely into a self-con­grat­u­la­tory record that sim­ply threw an­other log on an al­ready nicely-burn­ing fire. How­ever, fol­low­ing the Num­ber One suc­cess of 2014’s Cava­lier Youth, last year’s Night Peo­ple proved di­vi­sive among their fans and ul­ti­mately failed to el­e­vate them in sta­tus as they had hoped. The al­bum was an un­ex­pected pot­hole in their oth­er­wise smooth road. As a re­sult, VI sees the band fight­ing to re­take the wheel, with their own la­bel, new man­age­ment, and a fresh sense of free­dom.

In an­other no­table twist of fate, 2018 marks a decade since the band’s first record, Take Off Your Colours – an oc­ca­sion that will be marked by tour­ing the al­bum in full later this year. Bizarrely, their sixth al­bum is a spir­i­tual coun­ter­part to that de­but, not through forced nos­tal­gia or throw­backs, but through the cre­ative lib­erty al­lowed to them and the fear­less­ness re­quired to find their feet, again.

But where’s left to go? For­ward. Boldly. And the re­sult is a com­pelling al­bum that ex­per­i­ments with the YMAS sound more than ever be­fore. Opener Fast For­ward comes tooled up with huge drums, growl­ing bass and a dis­tinctly Royal Blood feel­ing to it. Yet some­how, just two tracks later, Back Again is throw­ing out light-hearted, dancey riffs that are about as shiny and tow­er­ing as the band have ever pro­duced. It’s this abil­ity to shape-shift that keeps the record in­ter­est­ing as it nav­i­gates from sound to sound. It sees each mem­ber’s cre­ative in­put and in­flu­ence brought to the ta­ble and, at times, the di­ver­sity is so great that the only real con­ti­nu­ity is the clout of front­man Josh Franceschi’s vo­cals and the band’s abil­ity to write a cho­rus. And therein lies the al­bum’s great­est strength, as VI serves up a tast­ing menu of what the fu­ture of the band holds, not bound by a sin­gle sound but by a re­vived spirit.

There are darker, rock­ier sounds such as Pre­dictable’s creep­ing, Muse-like riffs. There are silkys­mooth, ra­dio-friendly jams like 3AM and I O U. There are fever­ish, high­en­ergy num­bers such as Straight To My Head and Dan­ger. Even if it is as a re­sult of past mis­takes, it’s great to see a band six records into their ca­reer bring­ing re­newed en­ergy, cre­ativ­ity and fresh flavours to the ta­ble.

In the decade since You Me At Six re­leased their de­but, they have been in a con­stant state of evo­lu­tion, and in that sense, too, VI feels like the per­fect mile­stone as they re-roll the dice through­out the al­bum. With heart­beat-like drums, flour­ishes of synth and use of vocoder vo­cals, clos­ing track Los­ing You ce­ments it­self as the most out-there song on the record, and pro­vides a fit­tingly un­usual end­ing to an al­bum that cel­e­brates You Me At Six as a liv­ing, breath­ing, mul­ti­fac­eted group.

Some­times in life you need a wake-up call and – whether the mem­bers of You Me At Six liked it or not – Night Peo­ple proved to be a bucket of cold wa­ter. VI, how­ever, is the sound of a band who are wide awake once again, not just find­ing their feet, but com­ing out con­fi­dently swing­ing.

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