How can we possibly categorize You Me At Six? From their first album "Take Off Your Colours," they quickly showed their versatility through a combination of pop-esque lyrics and alternative rock instrumentals. This versatility has only expanded, through the bold and fierce sound of Sinners Never Sleep, and now to the incredibly dynamic "VI," it is clear that You Me At Six will not be losing their drive to continually evolve their sound.
When the singles "Fast Forward," "3 AM," "I O U," and "Back Again" came out, it was apparent that they intended to pack the punch with this album, and show off their new style that still holds remnants of previous albums, but adds a fresh perspective. When listening to the album initially, I decided to write my thoughts down on each song as they played.
1. "Fast Forward"
The beginning is a distorted ticking, it almost sounds mellow at first, leaving you wondering what exactly this album is going to sound like. Immediately contradicting that, the drums come in, and guitar immediately follows in with a hard, aggressive punch and you know exactly where they are going. Fast Forward practically screams, "we are here, and we will not disappoint!"
This hard-hitting song sets the tone for the rest of the album, from the powerful vocals, light traces of synth and keys, clean drumming, melodic guitar, and most noticeable: the funky bass lines. The song builds up with this simple yet fierce bass line, finally peaking with all of the instruments joining Franceschi's powerful vocals with a trace of an electronic vocal processor. Coming right back down to the distorted, electronic sound, that complements the bass, which builds right back up again into the chorus. From the get-go, it is apparent You Me At Six is not here to mess around.
2. "Straight to My Head"
The distortion brings us into the next song, "Straight to My Head." Keeping the energy high at first, the bass carries a more indie alternative feel as Franceschi's pop melodies interlock. Overall, there isn't much guitar that sticks out as the main melody, it is more of a backbone, but you can hear it distinctly at 2:15, and it builds the peak that carries the end of the song around 2:30. As a whole, it feels as if the bass and drums are really carrying this album's style, but each instrument contributes to the entire sound.
3. "Back Again"
Here's that summer hit you've always dreamed of. Funky, happy, and empowering, Back Again really exemplifies this new sound they have adopted, and could overall represent the album. After all, it does say they're back again! It's beachy, energetic, and just plain fun! Ironically, a lot of the lyrics reflect their ever-evolving style, for example, "nobody can tell who we really are", this added a personal flair to it that made it even more enjoyable than it already was. A lot more electronic effects are incorporated at 2 minutes in, building into the final chorus that is a combination of harmonies, reverb, and the insanely catchy tune that abruptly ends.
4. "Miracle in the Mourning"
The electronic hints have gradually become more prevalent, and they join the guitar in the intro to "Miracle in The Mourning." This one incorporates more effects, with a higher pitched echo backing the vocals, a distorted guitar sound, and ringing sounds combined with the electronic reverb. This song seems to be a turning point for the album, that incorporates all of the elements that make You Me At Six.
Going right back into the powerful, hard-hitting, and clean cut instrumentals and vocals, "3AM" combines the beachy tone introduced with the aggressive style we have seen in prior albums. The tempo of the album seems to remain constant, but at 2:25 there is a pleasant surprise with the sudden change made noticeable by the drum kick and snare. This song is funky and enticing, incorporating all of the musical elements introduced thus far on the album.
6. I O U
The bass really comes out to play in "I O U." Immediately warm, inviting, and almost mysterious in a way, this song makes you feel as if you're a sly character in a blockbuster action movie. The vocals build energetically with the drums, and the bass comes back in heavy in the chorus. When the guitar joins in the chorus, combining with the thick bass, and warm yet rough vocals, there is a distinct way to describe this song: downright sexy. A metronome-like ticking carries with echoing vocals until the next chorus gets built up to through electronic effects, we hear the sultry beat evolve into an almost malicious sound at 2:35. The distorted guitar carries this, making it powerful on top of the velvety feeling the other instruments bring.
7. "Pray For Me"
Contrasting the openings we have been hearing that primarily consisted of the bass guitar, we hear the vocals alone, and gradually the rest of the band joins in. There is not a big amount of buildup to the chorus as it has seemed with previous songs, and it leads into a dream-like chorus with the echoes of the guitar being strummed. This song carries to the end with this light, dreamy feeling.
Back to the bass intros, the lyrics immediately hint at yet another powerful song. These lyrics are accusatory, aggressive, and enticing, very reminiscent of Sinners Never Sleep. "Predictable" is not as high energy as earlier in the album, but it certainly holds the same punch as in "Fast Forward" and "I O U." The chorus brings out the rough quality Franceschi's vocals have, and the sturdy instrumentals carry, that eventually bring us to the end where the same chord is held out.
The tempo picks up immediately in "Danger," with a lot cleaner approach than the electronic distorted sound that has been incorporated in each song prior. The electronic elements that have been in songs prior seem to disappear, as well as the effects on the vocals, until towards the middle of the song. "Danger" reminded me of a lot of their songs from their third studio album, "Hold Me Down."
10. "Losing You"
The tone is drastically changed with a light guitar intro, and a pulsating electronic beat. Unlike songs prior, piano is incorporated into "Losing You." Also unlike prior songs, now, the synth feel is carrying the song. These synth effects bring a distant, otherworldly feel, that really exemplifies the lyrics themselves. When the chorus hits, the electronic noises almost seem positive, contrasting with the heartfelt lyrics about losing someone you love, ending with Franceschi's voice stand alone with an almost robotic effect stating, "I just can't stand losing you after all that we've been through" with a powerful silence to conclude "VI."
On the whole, "VI" was energetic, fresh, and fun! With a heavier quality reminiscent from "Sinners Never Sleep," infused with pop derived from their foundation sound in "Take Off Your Colors," yet remaining to add an entirely new take on each of these styles, this is certainly an album you do not want to sleep on.