You Me At Six are a band who have had their fair share of triumphs. They have also had a lot of underwhelming events. Previous album Cavalier Youth impressed at first but left little lasting impression besides a handful of good singles. The tour for the album was complimented for performance and production, but criticised for charging £30 for an hour of stage time and omission of hits.
It is with great trepidation I approached Night People, the band’s latest effort. An obsessive fan after Sinners Never Sleep who lost all interest in the band following Cavalier Youth, this effort in many ways represented whether I would return to the fold or turn away from the band for good.
It is with great joy I announce that I am back in the fold. The album starts with big, rocky openers ‘Night People’ and ‘Plus One’. ‘Heavy Soul’ is a personal favourite with a 90s rock feel to it, the guitar work having glorious echoes of Dinosaur Jr. Closing duo ‘Spell It Out’ and ‘Give’ show a control of atmosphere that previously alluded the band in their pursuit of slickness. ‘Make Your Move’ has a feel somewhere between The Killers and Biffy Clyro. No, that isn’t as messy as it sounds. On the flip side ‘Brand New’ is reminiscent of the glorious pop hooks that brought the band to prominence, and ‘Swear‘ has the swagger that flowed through Sinners. These tracks keep this pinned as a You Me At Six record no matter how far it goes at other points.
That’s not to say the album is free from the faults that plagued its predecessor. ‘Take on the World’ is the same timid ballad that has appeared on every You Me At Six effort since ‘Fireworks’ saw them do pretty well at it. Having perfected it with ‘Crash’ on Sinners Never Sleep, however, the track feels like a slightly shallower echo of the sound that raises its head with every effort the band put out. There is also a great annoyance that the songs, which all feel like they could flow marvellously, chop and change. Each song comes in suddenly, never in from another track. This is the true Achilles’ Heel of the album: every time the flow gets going a poorly placed track or sudden start ruins it, the placing of ‘Take on the World’ in the centre of the track list being a notable example, although there are almost as many examples as there are songs.
None of these derail the fact that You Me At Six are at a peak they have been trying to reach again for a while now. It’s hard not to be impressed by the band pushing themselves and succeeding as they do, especially after the less than stellar album cycle that surrounded Cavalier Youth.
‘Night People’ is out January 6th.
You Me At Six play the LCR on April 8th: tickets.