The debut album “With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear”, from Florida post hardcore band Sleeping With Sirens, though receiving a mixed response certainly put the band on the map, its solid if formulaic sound stirring a reaction from most. With the release of their second album “Let’s Cheers to This”, the quintet are sure to repeat that emotive reaction once more and probably again with the same split views about it.
There is progress within the new release from their straight post hardcore screamo debut, bringing in a heavily laden melody soaked sound with a sonically soaring favoured clean vocal attack. For many this will be a venture into the other extreme but credit the band for stretching their songwriting and sound.
Sleeping With Sirens have not gone poppy but certainly their sound has a lighter and more emotionally judged sensitivity to it with the admittedly excellent vocals of Kellin Quinn using every moment of every song to explore and portray the lyrical content using the impressive range of his voice. The result though is a much reduced harsh and hard vocal attack and a resulting loss of balance and counter in many of the tracks, the most effective parts of the album being when the aggression is set free, as in the split personality of ‘Tally It Up, Settle The Score’. Overall the band takes themselves further away from Miss May I territory and finding satisfaction in a noisier version of a Paramore, and depending on how either of those camps grabs you it could well colour any view on the release.
The album certainly starts impressively enough with the straight forward and energetic light anthem pop of ‘Do It Now Remember It Later’. The pace is kept high throughout, the rhythm bursts of Justin Hills and Gabe Barham, bass and drums respectively, driving and controlled whilst the guitar swoops and charges of Jesse Lawson and Jack Fowler more than satisfying if unsurprising. ‘If You Hang’ is next, initially more subdued but soon follows suit as it evolves, the songs challenging sentiment, forceful. Lyrically here and, it has to be said, on most tracks is thoughtful and easily to relate to, its well delivered and defined wording often outshining the music surrounding it.
There are certainly some impressive moments within many tracks usually leading from a harder attack, as in ‘Four Corners And Two Sides’, its metal riffs and striking chords alongside a grittier and threatening vocal shout, the perfect and complimentary companion to the melodies that reign within the track. ‘A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son’ too has some sterner parts but they are tempered by some pure pop melodies and angst outpourings, which make the track challenging but ultimately only reasonably rewarding.
“Let’s Cheers to This” is a strong album, well created and delivered and containing some vibrant ideas realised to a polished level. The more one listens to it the more that comes from it, admittedly but there is an overall swell of politeness that tinges it musically and the feeling that they need to bring back some of that hardcore aggressive streak is overwhelmingly the lasting impression. If they did, there is the sense they will have something to elevate them out of the routine sound that permeates the genre right now. Sleeping With Sirens have moved in a positive direction in recognising the need to evolve and with tracks like the stunning ballad ‘All My Heart’, it is harsh to strike them down too hard. There is creativity and well produced enjoyable music; just there is not that challenging aggression to make them stand out as much as they should.