ALBUM REVIEW – “Cavalier Youth” by You Me At Six

To identify the mission statement of Cavalier Youth, one need only look at the chorus for preppy second single ‘Fresh Start Fever’ – “Welcome to the future / Dream a little bigger”. And bigger is the zeitgeist of the fourth offering from popular British rockers You Me At Six. Having consolidated their status as a force to be reckoned with in their homeland, they’ve now set their sights on the daytime radio stations and arenas of the world, shedding the last vestiges of their original pop punk sound in favour of colossal production, big pounding drums and soaring choruses that at times sacrifice immediacy to add to the widescreen scope of their newfound vision.

The first single released from the album, ‘Lived a Lie’, proves a perfect indicator of where the band have taken their sound, ditching sweetness for a more mature outlook and centring around a chorus that doesn’t seem catchy at first but rewards repeat listening. Unlike previous record Sinners Never Sleep, a confused set of songs airing audible growing pains, this is an album that fully embraces the band’s newfound maturity – the You Me At Six of old could never have crafted a song as dramatic as ‘Room to Breathe’, or as timeless-sounding as barnstorming opener ‘Too Young to Feel This Old’.  “We’re not young any more” are the very first words you here – it’s not subtle, but it sure does hammer the point home.

Cleverly, they’ve pulled off this growth without sacrificing the band’s core identity. The enthusiasm and pop sheen that’s characterised all their work remains, as does the knack for simple, effective hooks. ‘Hope for the Best’ is the most obvious throwback to the past, a summery chorus belying lyrics of measured optimism. Though the band around him do their job well, vocalist Josh Franceschi remains their MVP, an understated yet classy performance providing definition to their tunes. While lyrics have never been his strongest suit, he at least recognises his strengths and directs more attention onto his melodies than his words.

If anything, though, this is an album that tries too hard to be big and anthemic. As a whole it is something of a tiring listen, the restrained verse and shout-along chorus template employed a little too often with too little variation in sound. Where Sinners grated by going all over the place, testing different genres then abandoning them, Cavalier Youth finds You Me At Six in a comfortable groove that suits them, but lacks genuine excitement. ‘Be Who You Are’ is the exception, a relaxed, melodic peach of a ballad that inexplicably fades out within two minutes. Left to develop, it could have been the album’s highlight – as it stands it’s a welcome but frustratingly brief interlude

Cavalier Youth is a very accomplished piece of work from a band that have worked hard to get where they are and now look set to transcend the scene that spawned them into the mainstream consciousness proper. What it lacks in heterogeneity it mostly makes up for with clear purpose and uniformly tight songwriting. You Me At Six have effectively reshaped and cemented their sound and written what is the most consistently strong album of their career thus far- for now, that’s all they needed to do.

Rating: 7/10

[Michael Bird]

“Lived a Lie”

“Fresh Start Fever”

YMAS

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: