Over the past four years, You Me At Six have undergone quite a transformation. From touring round the country on public buses to having a top five album, sold out headline tours and being crowned the ‘Best British Band’ by Kerrang! magazine, they’ve had quite the journey. With all this success taking its toll on the band, a lack of communication between the five members meant it looked unlikely that a third album would ever be made. Yet tragedy saved the band, with the death of two of the members’ parents putting life into perspective for the boys from Surrey. They managed to help each other through the dark times and came out stronger for it.
Sinners Never Sleep is a reflection of the tough times the band have had to deal with and, as a result, showcases a more mature sound – they’re not afraid to experiment with new heavier and varied sounds here. But they’ve retained crucial elements of the original sound that gained them an army of adoring fans and helped them break into the mainstream with previous albums Take Off Your Colours and Hold Me Down.
Recorded at the famous Sound Factory studios in Los Angeles with producer Garth Richardson (Biffy Clyro, Rage Against The Machine, RHCP), the recording process saw You Me At Six move out of their comfort zone and try something fresh to explore new avenues. Whether inspiration from the sun, sea and sand of L.A. rather than the rain, mud and wind of the UK has actually had any effect on the finished article is something that we will never know, but the finished album will keep fans happy while moving in a more straight-up rock direction as opposed to the pop-punk, pop-rock and emo labels the band have grown up with.
Lead single ‘Loverboy’ is a classic You Me At Six song with a huge, anthemic singalong chorus like those which have been the staples of their previous hits such as ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ and ‘Underdog’. Starting as a heavy, bass-ridden song, the catchy riff rises up into a classic sounding guitar solo, something that evaded the second album entirely and makes a welcome return on Sinners Never Sleep. The expected catchy melodies continue and are heard throughout the album, no more so than in ‘Jaws On The Floor’ and ‘Reckless’. These songs could have been lifted from either of the two previous albums, combining simple and infectious rhythm parts with catchy lyrics and lead parts, marking them out as future singles.
However, a much heavier side can be heard from the dark ‘Bite My Tongue’; featuring Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes, the song highlights the anger felt by singer Josh Franceschi towards the rest of the band, and vice versa, amid rumours about him demanding more royalties from songwriting. Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall contributes to the growling intensity of ‘Time Is Money’, the heaviest and most harcore song the band have ever written. How newer fans will receive the songs remains to be seen, but I guess most would leave the songs off their mp3 players and never listen to them.
Complementing the heavy songs are the soft, introspective and delicate ‘No One Does It Better’ and ‘Crash’. With clean guitar parts using intricate chord picking, even the angriest listener would relax and calm down instantly. These are the songs that touch emotions and would have audiences waving lighters in the air (or smartphones with a lighter app installed). Similarly to Hold Me Down, the album finishes with a soft and peacful song, but at over 6 minutes long, ‘When We Were Younger’ doesn’t have enough substance to warrant its length – it’s bland, dull, and far too repetitive.
Sinners Never Sleep is an album that takes You Me At Six into new, unexplored places. It is a gamble to move away from the generic ‘pop-punk’ sound but it has paid off thanks to the quality of the songs. The album is certainly the path of maturity into the more ‘grown up’ rock music scene that the band were looking for.