Growing up is hard, growing up in public is even harder, but that is exactly what the lads in You Me At Six have had to do, having gone from fresh faced teens to full grown adults in the space of 4 albums. From the exuberant bounce of their 2008 debut “Take Off Your Colours,” with its designer haircuts and youthful pop punk swagger, all the way up until their yet to be released new album “Cavalier Youth” the band has had its ups and downs and has evolved into something else entirely. To use a Pokemon metaphor, in 2006 they were a little tiny Charmander floating on by, playing shows and having fun, now they are Charizard waiting to burn whole cities down and conquer what is left.
I got into You Me At Six around the time of “Hold Me Down” and found that while the album was good, and live they were better than I expected, I found I couldn’t fully buy into the hype surrounding them. Then came “Sinners Never Sleep” which moved in a different direction and I found myself tuning out a bit more, but then the band announced they were writing album number 4, that it was going to have a totally different feel to it than their previous material and I found myself interested to see what the band had in store for us.
The resulting album “Cavalier Youth” is a huge leap forward creatively for You Me At Six, I mean don’t get me wrong they haven’t gone and realised a death metal album or anything like that, but they have sharpened their knives a little bit, hardened up their sound slightly and moved in a rockier more straight forward direction, drawing in a sound that is akin to what Young Guns were doing on their sophomore album “Bones”. It’s a bold move on the bands part, and while not a total reinvention, it’s nice to see the band outgrowing the pop punk immaturity of their earlier releases, and showcasing a song writing ability that many thought they probably didn’t possess.
The two singles ‘Lived A Lie’ and ‘Fresh Start Fever’ both give a great indication of what the album is like, but then once you dive into the album you are faced with tracks like ‘Cold Night,’ with its classic tale of hopeless love and ‘Hope for the Best’ which is the best song Jimmy Eat World never wrote. ‘Love Me Like You Used To’ is a massive driving anthem, in the vein of ‘Stay with me,’ that will be stuck in your head for days on end.
The thing about You Me At Six is that while they as people have matured, and in turn their song writing ability has matured with them. They are still the same band at their core and can still writing songs that are both infectious, and that bore their way into your brain and stay there, but they also speak to you on an personal emotional level and still have that deeply affecting impact on you. I think older fans of the band might see this album as something they will need to adjust to, but there I think that is some of its charm, this is an album that will reward the listener over repeated listens. As you let it take a hold and work its charm on you, an album you can live inside of for months and that is meant for all moods, and seasons.
You Me At Six have finally come of age and can hold their head high as they lead the best of a new crop of British bands forward into battle, safe in the knowledge that they are still doing things on their own terms and still creating music that is getting better all the time.