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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 01.28.2014

My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]

You Me At Six is:
Josh Franceschi – vocals
Chris Miller – lead guitar
Max Heyler – rhythm guitar
Matt Barnes – bass guitar
Dan Flint - drums

You Me At SixCavalier Youth

Track listing:
1. Too Young to Feel This Old
2. Lived a Lie
3. Fresh Start Fever
4. Forgive and Forget
5. Room to Breathe
6. Win Some, Lose Some
7. Cold Night
8. Hope for the Best
9. Love Me Like You Used To
10. Be Who You Are
11. Carpe Diem
12. Wild Ones
Running time: 41:03

The first lyric on Carpe Diem is “We're not young anymore.” With this as an opening statement, you might expect pop punk outfit You Me At Six to offer something on their fourth album that shows signs of growth, maturity, experience, or maybe just something a little bit out of left-field, something we haven't seen from them before. That is absolutely not the case. This is a You Me At Six album to the core. This isn't a band that really messes with their sound too much. Sure, they had one or two heavier anthems on their previous effort, and they did that one song with Chiddy Bang but outside of that these guys are more than happy to indulge us in tightly-written, hook-laden pop punk. Up until this point in their new ten-year career that's been no bad thing and it's worked for them. At this stage, I don't know if the act may just be starting to wear a little thin.

You Me At Six unleashed their debut in 2008; Take Off Your Colours had the slightest tinge of a post-hardcore influence, and its gritty, unpolished production set it aside from the work of many bands of a similar ilk around at the time. On 2010's Hold Me Down the band honed in on those killer choruses as they started filling bigger and bigger venues off the back of singles “Underdog” and “Stay With Me.” Sinners Never Sleep but them over the top going into 2012. All of a sudden this was a band with a dozen or so really popular singles, they were attracting mammoth crowds at festivals and they're now playing arena tours. And they did it all as one of the last surviving bands of the mid-noughties emo scene. The tight jeans and dodgy haircuts have always been in tact, but so too have the songs to back up their standing.

As a big fan of the band's earlier work, I'm surprised and more than a little disappointed not find any stand out singles here. The choruses are tight, but that's about as good as I can say about them. The opening riff of lead single “Lived a Lie” genuinely sounds like something they'd put in a One Direction single to make their audience think they were cool and edgy. Lyrically, it's quite clever in places but so pedestrian in others. It's got a nifty little marching drum breakdown mid-way through the track and an anthemic battle-cry of “We are believers,” but it's half-hearted. It'll probably get a young audience bouncing though, that's for sure. Outside of that mid-song interlude though, there's just nothing remotely memorable here.

The other thing You Me At Six tend to do really well is a towering ballad, and that's another thing missing here. “Wild Ones” and “Cold Night” are the closest Cavalier Youth comes, the latter a reflective, down-temp track that features some neat guitar work as a backdrop for the second part, but the vocal is lacking and the song reaches a gentle anti-climax before its barely begun. “Wild Ones” is much slower, dragged along by bludgeoning drums. The lyricism is at its peak here, too. Much like a number of tracks, it's all a bit middle of the road though. Elsewhere there's a two-minute track “Be Who You Are” that floats along on an acoustic guitar and Josh Franceschi's soothing vocal; weirdly it name drops the likes of Joy Division and Best Coast. Finally, it's something different from the band, it's intriguing, it stands out, and then it just completely tails off and fades out after one verse and chorus. It almost feels like a demo that should be tacked on to the deluxe edition of the CD, but instead it's right in the middle of the album. And it had the potential to be an outstanding track, as well.

In contrast, “Carpe Diem” starts off nicely with some grinding guitar work and a nice bit of bass, the chorus is chock-full of all different sounds but the verses are monotonous. For a song who's title translates to “seize the day,” the band sure seem to be taking it easy on this album. “Hope for the Best” is the most urgent of tracks on the album, and is a much needed kick in the shins mid-way through. The production seems dirtier here than anywhere else and the band sounds more youthful for it. “Love Me Like You Used To” keeps the pace and is likely a future single. Finally, there's a mammoth chorus and it's more like You Me At Six of old. It builds and builds to a frantic climax of crashing guitars and desperate vocals, a thrilling performance.

“Are we gonna live forever,” the band ponders on closing track “Wild Ones,” and the answer is a resounding “no,” if the band continues to rest on their laurels and churn out music like this. The one aspect of the band's sound you could always reply upon was an anthem or two to storm the charts and hype a live crowd up, but they're few and far in between on Cavalier Youth. Vocally, Josh Franceschi is solid but has a tendency to stay within his comfort zone, disappointingly because I know he excels when he really pushes himself. As usual, the song-writing is tight and there's moments of brilliance here, but they are too infrequent to recommend this album. By not taking a step forward, the band has really hurt themselves and put at risk everything they've achieved over the last ten years – the arena shows, the big festival crowds and the radio airplay are all under threat – a massive surprise considering this band has been known to be able to write a hit single in their sleep.

You Me At Six - "Lived a Lie"

The 411: You Me At Six is an established name, particularly in Europe and the UK. They have a dedicated army of fans that will lap up most of whatever they have to offer and those fans will no doubt find something here. It does, however, appear as though the band has played it massively safely on Cavalier Youth, even dropping the guest vocals that appeared on stand out tracks of their previous album that ironically cemented their status. There's one or two songs here that will likely make an impact on radio, and there are flashes of excellence scattered amongst the monotony, but it's a half-hearted, weak-willed effort from the Surrey lads this time around.
Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend


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