You Me At Six Album Review
Typically, unless an album jumps out at me and screams ideas and feelings I have to sit on it for a while to absorb everything. The sound, the artist’s intentions, their execution, whether or not they put their heart into their work.
Maybe you’re thinking how could I possibly know the artist’s intentions or whether or not their heart was in it… and my response would be, you just can. You can hear it in their voice when passion and intensity begins to make the stanza lines quiver and distort. You can feel it when the guitarist spent the time to find unusual notes and phrasings to make you feel something unexpected and profound. I’ve said this before in the review of the amazing Holly Maher; you can’t fake sincerity. You can’t manufacture soul. You can’t fib and lie your way into the hearts of your fans. Not discerning music fans, anyway. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me longer than expected to write this review. You Me At Six are legitimate musicians, with solid songs and the more I listen to them the more that I like them. My only gripe with this album is it’s production.
Starting off with a short, sweet little song called “Be Who You Are” the singer, Josh Franceschi earns brownie points for name-dropping Joy Division right off the bat. It’s pretty clear by the end of this short song that this album has been pored over in a studio so that every note is precisely placed and polished. While this isn’t the worst thing ever, and I honestly don’t know how much input the member’s had in the recording process, I can’t help but feel that the record loses something due to it’s luster.
For example, take one of my favorite albums of the last five years; The Golden Age of Nowhere by the criminally over-looked Los Angeles outfit, Funeral Party. The album is 12 or 13 tracks of well written, catchy as hell rock and roll. It’s polished but not perfect. His voice blows out, there are a few notes that make you say “wtf?”, and there’s even one song in particular that I feel could have been left off of that record without really losing anything of tremendous value. The reason The Golden Age of Nowhere shines the way it does is because it’s dripping with emotion and skin-and-bones sincerity. His voice is blowing out because he’s feeling what he’s singing about. That’s what we want to hear. Your art, as a musician, is going back to that place you found the inspiration for the song for the 3 or 4 minutes the song lasts. Your job as a musical artist is to be highly skilled in self-empathy, and to show us exactly how you felt when this song was created. The source, the light (or darkness), the primordial incarnation of something severe…I want to hear it! So much of Funeral Party’s sound is defined by their singer, and I feel the same way about You Me At Six.
Franceschi is a decent singer, and while I didn’t hear anything in the instrumentation to blow my mind, that’s not the kind of band You Me At Six are. The band is greater as a unit than as the sum of their parts. Franceschi feels like he’s holding something back, something raw that would add greater dimension and contrast to the sometimes wall of distorted guitars. They have so much potential and are so close to realizing it that I would hate for them to fall into repeated commercial radio airplay next to Seether, Shinedown, and blah blah who’s-his-face-what’s-it-matter. In the event that this does become a reality, track 9 “Room To Breathe” will almost certainly be the culprit. Like I said, I don’t know how much input these guys had in the studio. They are a pretty young band (Franceschi being 23), and hopefully they will continue to grow and expand their musical horizons into something truly special.
Cavalier Youth, while a cool title for an album, does not feel accurate. Too much time and care has been taken with this record. What could have been a great record breaks down in mediocre land, but don’t discount this group of musicians. Whether misdirected, misinformed, naive, or inexperienced, all those things can be shaken off with time. Long story short, this is a solid effort, but not really my cup of tea. Keep an eye out for future offerings from these lads as I think they have the potential to do something really important, or at least wildly popular.
Standout tracks are “Wild Ones”, and “Too Young To Feel This Old”. (Check out the album below on iTunes)