Over the past 14 years, You Me At Six have made a career out of catchy pop-rock bops. All overdriven guitars, mammoth sing-a-long choruses and angst-ridden lyrics, they’ve become masters of their craft. Now they’re back for their sixth album (the imaginatively titled ‘VI’), and it looks like things might be beginning to change.
In some ways this move away from their old sound started on their last album, ‘Night People‘, where they sacked off the catchy choruses and moved towards something that embraced more traditional rock. It ended up feeling forced and unauthentic – where bands like Paramore have seamlessly reinvented themselves, You Me At Six seemed to be following the hype for the sake of it.
The first two tracks from ‘VI’ show a different band – one presenting what could be their best offerings yet. ‘Fast Forward’ is a distillation of the sound that earned YMAS their army of fans. It’s full of throbbing basslines, megalithic choruses, and roaring guitars, and totally devoid of the saccharine moments that plagued their last record. It’s big Foo Fighters-sized stadium rock that’ll likely appease long-time fans of the band as they take steps into a bold, new sonic era.
We get the first glimpse of what that could be on lead single ‘3AM’. Borrowing more from indie darlings like Blossoms or Peace than their previous Warped Tour-infused list of influences, it’s a drastic change for the band, but that’s what makes it one of their finest moments in years.
Opening with shimmering synths and an explosion of slinky riffs, ‘3AM’ lets the band move forward. Although it’s still got elements of the raucous energy that garnered them Number One albums and sold-out arena tours, this new sound is slick, styled and – most importantly – no longer stuck in 2008. YMAS have moved from comfortably sitting alongside bands like Fall Out Boy and All Time Low to dabbling in ‘AM‘-era Arctic Monkeys riffs. The song’s sparkling synth lines are reminiscent of Paramore’s latest album, while the stomping chorus could have come straight from The Killers‘ ‘Wonderful Wonderful‘.
Lyrically, it may not be the most inspired track (frontman Josh Franceschi croons about being on the receiving end of a booty call in the early hours of the morning), but the execution is brilliantly good fun and, for once, it sounds like the band are enjoying it too. We’ll have to wait and see if YMAS do go “full Paramore”, but, for now, it looks like they’re on the edge of an exciting new reinvention.