You Me At Six

Sinners Never Sleep

Written by: TL on 06/11/2011 14:17:23

Ever since they got the proverbial ball rolling with their 2008 debut "Take Off Your Colours", Surrey quintet You Me At Six have been labouring ambitiously to grow their status from pop-punk hotshots to a legitimate presence in the modern British rock scene. The next building block in this project came early last year, when "Hold Me Down" assaulted the radio waves with singles such as "Underdog" and "Liquid Confidence", all of which came on with loads of catchy, youthful energy, likely inspired by a lengthy tour in support of Paramore.

Recently however, YMAS dropped another album on top of their stack called "Sinners Never Sleep", and on this new disc, the lads seem intent to show even more growth, moving into denser, darker territory both musically and lyrically. Part of what gave them promise to begin with, was the power of the often overlooked slower, no-so-bright elements on their debut, and while those came out of focus when "Hold Me Down" went all out for one shiny chorus after another, "Sinners Never Sleep" renew the more bitter and angry end of the band's emotional spectrum. Frontman Josh Franceschi is no longer so much bursting with anxious, post-relationship blues, as he is turning his gaze outwards towards fans and detractors both, pointing fingers and asking questions.

As much becomes clear from the very instant the mocking "Loverboy" opens the album with its brazenly infectious vocals/bass-line combination. It's the kind of song that initially has critics thinking "man, this is too obvious", yet initially ends up forcing its way into your memory via some of the more efficient songwriting you'll hear this year. As it soon turns out, this is a theme for the album, which sees YMAS rebalance their efforts to deliver in both chorus, bridge and verse, avoiding the "Hold Me Down"-feeling of waiting for the chorus, or the "Take Of Your Colours"-feeling of the best part of a song not coming around till you're halfway through it.

Instead you get songs, such as the aforementioned "Loverboy", the furious "Bite My Tongue" (featuring Bring Me The Horizon's Oli Sykes on a screamed middle eight) and the assertive, anthem "Little Death", which come at you from the word go, and keep coming all the way through. That YMAS have gotten a better grip of their own dynamics however, shows up on more levels than just in the advanced songwriting technique. You can hear it in Franceschi's vocals, as he continues to grow and make the most of his range, imbuing his lines with both frail, emotive tenderness and raw, gravelly power. And this duality is heard in the assortment of tracks as well, as "Sinners Never Sleep" balance the aforementioned outlets with an equal measure of soft songs in the form of "This Is The First Thing", "No One Does It Better", "Crash" and "Little Bit Of Truth", the latter of which sees the band really getting their Jimmy Eat World-influence on to great effect, and all of which easily match the more outgoing tracks in terms of recognisability and re-listen value.

As for the rest of the songs, the aggressive "Time Is Money" (which features Parkway Drive's Winston McCall on another harsh break) and "The Dilemma" are both slightly less consistent, but manage to do things towards their respective ends that make them worthwhile - And here I mean the breakdown riff in the former which is predictable yet quite enjoyable, and the horn-backed climax to the latter which is actually a stand-out moment on the record. Then there's "Reckless", which is a bit of an odd man out, but doesn't suffer from it, due to it seeming like an obvious single choice with it's very "When You Were Young"-ish (The Killers) chord progression. This leaves only "Jaws On The Floor" and "When We Were Younger", which come the closest to being decisive misfires, the former sounding like one of those happier tunes that really would've fit better on "Hold Me Down" and the latter closing the record in an odd, eerie manner that seems like it would have fit much better as an interlude.

Overall I think "Sinners Never Sleep" is a step in the right direction for a band whose initial hype is dying down, and who needs to put out solid records like this to prove that they're in business for the long haul. YMAS prove that they can write the hooks that are so crucial for the genre just as consistently as ever, and even manage to show remarkable improvements in the way they're putting their songs together and when you add that Josh Franceschi is becoming one of the more recognisable voices in English rock, those are all reasons to appreciate this album as an all together solid piece of work. There are still areas that need work, notably the lyrics which can seem a little obvious at times, and the drawback of the tight song structuring is that the music occasionally seems a bit calculated and cynical. If those things were in better shape though, it's hard to think of more to ask from a would be contemporary rock record, and hence YMAS eventually earn themselves another grade to signify that their band is squarely on course.


Download: Loverboy, Little Death, Reckless, This Is The First Thing
For The Fans Of: Kids In Glass Houses, (recent) Taking Back Sunday, Francesqa, Young Guns

Release Date 03.10.2011

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