A risky jump towards sleek, glossy pop
Anna Smith
23:05 4th October 2018

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Is there anything more succinctly 2018 than celebrating the release of your new album with a pop-up vegan kebab shop? Obviously kitsch, cruelty free grub is the new rock ’n’ roll way. ‘You Me At Shish’ is the flavour of the month, a pop-up at Hackney’s famed Temple of Seitan where You Me At Six will be playing a small album release show tomorrow, 5 October.

Asides from the exciting world of plant-based foods, the band have been working hard on their latest album VI. Seemingly less of a natural progression from 2017’s Night People and more of a risky jump towards sleek, glossy pop, the album combines the best of their past and all the promise of their future.

Opening track ‘Fast Forward’, sees familiar lyrics like, “I might be down, but I'm not fucking out” set to harsh, fuzzy guitar giving the impression of pandering to the army of fans that joined them on Take Off Your Colours. But any sign of return is immediately scuppered by ‘Straight To My Head’, the first indication of the album’s sleek pop production and direction. Single ‘Back Again’ is straight out-and-out pop. An optimistic, falsetto-laden track tackling the issues of cynics and critics with carefree conviction.

The more subdued ‘IOU’ is the sonic equivalent to edging. It builds and builds, but never seems to reach the peak. With an understated, unexpected chorus and heavily bass dependent hook, it’s definitely the most repeat-worthy track on the album.

‘Pray For Me’ is where things get really interesting. Previously You Me At Six have said VI would be, “like The Weeknd being smacked in the face with rock music”. Realistically it’s more a case of one Weeknd-esque song surrounded by dance-infused rock tracks. It’s hard not to do a double take when listening to ‘Pray For Me’; is it You Me At Six? Is it The Weeknd? Did The Weeknd have a say in this song? Who knows.

After being hugely underwhelmed by their own fifth record Night People, despite the fantastic public reception, the band wanted to turn around and put VI out pretty quickly. Josh Franceschi recently taunted of the new album, “You know how Arctic Monkeys had Humbug as a stepping stone before AM? That's how I feel it was like for us. It's a record we had to make and the only record we could have made at that moment in time. Ultimately, it's what shaped us to make this one, it served a purpose.”

Comparing the gravity of an album to AM in respect to a band’s career is a pretty self-assured statement to make, and to say IV succeeds would be a bold claim. It’s fun, with punchy tracks like ‘Danger’ marking a clear departure from their previous sound and cementing a new direction for Josh and co. They’ve seamlessly blended the colossal choruses and guttural guitar that earned them a cult following back in the late 2000s, with shiny a Paramore style re-invention. A more appropriate analogy than AM would perhaps be that this is their After Laughter.

But hey, this is only the beginning of New Me At Six (geddit?), and their trajectory looks to be a pretty exciting one.

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