Sam Kershaw gives the lowdown on the Surrey five-piece’s surprise sixth studio album, which bucks the trend in terms of expectation and sees the band switch between devastating rock anthems and shimmering indie pop hits.
When a band reaches its sixth studio album, it could be easy to resign themselves to delivering what people expect from them – with VI, You Me at Six have done the total opposite. By their own admission, their heart wasn’t in their previous endeavour entitled Night People, which felt one dimensional in comparison to their new record.
Writing with pop maestro, Eg White has unearthed a new way of working which has spawned a more melodic and soulful approach. The songs feel richer and more accessible than the polished production on their earlier albums such as Hold Me Down and Take Off Your Clothes alongside a welcome approach to outside influences and collaboration for the first time in the recording process.
The album was produced by Dan Austin who has recorded for the likes of The Pixies, Massive Attack and Biffy Clyro and ‘blew the band away sonically’ says drummer, Dan Flint. This has clearly allowed them to up the ante, take a bold risk and sound like they have never sounded before.
Opening track ‘Fast Forward’ takes no prisoners, with its enticing synth luring you into a false sense of security before an explosion of driving drums and layered guitars. It’s reminiscent of Royal Blood’s gun ho approach and kicks the album off with aplomb. The frenetic rhythms on ‘Danger’ are well constructed with its hypnotic chorus whilst the RnB drums on ‘Miracle in the Morning’ have a real groove running through it.
‘3AM’ inspired by Radiohead’s headline slot at Glastonbury 2017 and featuring former Athlete frontman, Joel Pott the collaboration has helped rejuvenate the band according to lead singer, Josh Franceschi and is one of the standout tracks, built around a powerful industrial hook, funk driven bassline and elegant vocal. It’s a simplistic sure-fire radio friendly hit which captures the band in this new optimistic light.
However, the album really comes to fruition with a number of accessible alt pop gems where Franceschi’s vocals really shine. ‘Back Again’ with its exuberant chorus and infectious summery guitar licks wouldn’t be out of place on an '00s indie album and the driving bass and 80’s synths of ‘Straight to my Head’ tip a hat to early White Lies. The blues mid-tempo chug and spattered drums of ‘I O U’ give you the expectation that it will explode into a wall of white noise on the chorus, yet it maintains it charms only crashing into life briefly as it comes to a close.
It seems You Me at Six are mindful of being typecast as a one trick pony. It’s easy to see them as a laser focused rock outfit, cranking out a well-oiled formula to packed out arenas. However, their latest record shows the band are more conscious in their decision making. This record has moments that shimmer with a pop sensibility alongside some great musicianship. It feels more considered in comparison to their other material and states a case that the British rock quintet may be able to fit into a few more pigeon holes than first thought.