Album Review: You Me At Six – SUCKAPUNCH (2021)

The first album cycle you share with a band, at whatever part of their career they’re at, is always special. The excitement at all of the new stuff, the desperate attempts to absorb all of their old stuff (if they have old stuff to absorb), the raw beauty of discovering new music at the same time as everyone else. It’s purely beautiful.

And this was what I had with You Me At Six, albeit twelve years after ‘Hold Down Your Colours’ had arrived. I knew a few songs before I completely fell in love with the band over the summer; a chance rediscovery of ‘Fresh Start Fever’ and a realisation that I knew ‘Underdog’ then developed into me progressively listening to all six of their albums. And now, after the most exciting set of singles I’ve heard in a long time, youmeatseven – sorry, SUCKAPUNCH, has finally arrived.

‘MAKEMEFEELALIVE’ was the first official single from the album, although ‘What’s It Like’ had arrived as a standalone track as far back as 2019. ‘MAKEMEFEELALIVE’ was pretty prescient for the times in which it arrived back in the summer, and it certainly encapsulated a lot of the frustration I felt. But that was soon completely destroyed by ‘Beautiful Way’, a rip-roaring rock banger with a 174 BPM – a tempo which is more typical for drum and bass tracks. So then, after this incredible track (which I crowned joint 4th best song of 2020), I spent the next couple of months screaming

SO TELL ME WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY THAT WE’RE NOT OKAY? WE’RE FUCKED UP IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY, WE’RE FUCKED UP IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY!

A near-fusion of two of my favourite genres…. could it possibly get any better? I mean, the title track wound up being one of my top songs ever within just seven weeks….

When you listen to the track, don’t do it the injustice of listening to the single edit. The full five minute version is a masterpiece which I don’t think YMA6 were ever going to top. The opening and the bassline for the verses sound more suited to a Berlin nightclub than a rock album… although don’t get me wrong, the chorus is absolutely MADE for a mosh-pit. The bridges speak about rebirth, just as the song is building for its epic finale – I RISE FROM THE WRECKAGE THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND – which is topped by a Dan Reynolds-like scream – not the last time he’s benefited from that growl on this album, either. In a series of tracks packed to the roof with highlights, this song is a fucking solar experience.

And now tonight has arrived, six new tracks to complete the full album. ‘Nice To Me’ is a solid introduction, with an atompsheric Oasis-like opening few seconds before bursting full-heartedly into the future and Josh Fransechi’s trademark vocals managing to create a chorus sounding just on the right side of being inspired by Foals’ ‘What Went Down’. WYDRN sounds very much it could have fitted on Bring Me The Horizon’s incredible 2019 album ‘amo’, with its experimental electronic beats and synths, before being topped off with melancholic lyrics.

‘Kill The Mood’ is a dark, moody rock song which seems to bridge the gap between 2018’s VI and now. The only thing about this song which I would improve would have been to give the electric guitar solo more time to breathe, a la Beautiful Way, but it’s also a beautiful bridge into a slower segment of the album. After the SUCKAPUNCH, the wind seems to have been knocked out of the album’s sails – but with such a great ballad like ‘Glasgow’ how could anyone complain? It seems to be an introspective analysis of a relationship that’s hit a crossroads – either they fix their stitches back together, or it’s all over. It’s so easy for a ballad like this to sound vapid or false but this is really, really emotional. The first four minutes are really soft, melancholic and calming, but the rest of the song is loud, very loud. Josh’s throaty scream almost sounds like a cry and that point where the drum kicks in again is where the song’s overwhelming sadness smacks you in the face.

It leads perfectly into ‘Adrenaline’, which upon it’s New Year’s Day release, I was not the most complimentary. I never thought it was bad, but the words ‘Imagine Dragons rip-off’ certainly came to my mind. But when slotted into the 8th position here, it fits perfectly. And this time, the guitars breathed. The solos on this album are simply staggering – Chris and Max simply sound incredible here. My opinion of the song is always rising, and if you’re not immediately invested with it, keep listening – it’s a grower.

‘Voicenotes’ feels a bit like a collision of their older music and their new. I got very distracted through the intro when my ears decided to focus on one specific sound which sounded to me like a car’s direction indicator ticking. It’s probably the heaviest song on the album, containing deep riffs throughout and an almost metallic drum. I didn’t know what I expected from the track when I saw the title but it wasn’t this. It was a very nice surprise to me, though!

‘Finish What I Started’ feels like it really should be the final track here. It’s got a euphoric feel to it which is a tonal shift from the moodiness and sadness which populates much of the rest of the record. It’s the sort of song I would put on at the end of the night, just before bed or before sitting in quiet. I can’t really explain it, so I won’t, but it’s got that certain vibe to it. Which is why I’m not impressed by the positioning of ‘What’s It Like’ right at the end. While it definitely fits the experimental nature of this album, and is a superb song on it’s own – it should be track seven or eight, and not the closer at all. It doesn’t fit the story which seems to have natural unfolded throughout the album – one of frustration, sadness, even grief, before retribution and self-acceptance at the end. This just feels like fighting, anger, pain all over again. I recommend you play this track a lot because it’s different to nearly any other song I’ve ever heard – but if I was just playing the album, I would probably take it out or move it to between ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ and ‘Kill The Mood’.

As a result, an impeccable album ends in a very weird place. You Me At Six never fail to keep you guessing, but the one thing you can be sure of is that whatever they make will sound great. Not being around for the other albums, I’m probably slightly biased in saying this is their best yet, but there honestly isn’t a single bad song in here. It’s got solid replay value and You Me At Six are fast cementing themselves as one of my top two favourite bands.

Ryan’s Rating: 9/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s