The Surrey youngsters fail to establish their own pop-punk identity.
Raziq Rauf 2010
This is a record to tear a nation of music fans in two. Half will enjoy the spritely pop-punk purveyed by these Surrey youngsters on their second album (and major label debut); the others will bemoan the lack of originality on show, ripping the quintet to shreds with the kind of vitriolic disdain usually reserved for the most hackneyed of heard-it-before cliché-pedlars. But this is just a band. Right?
Sort of. The past year has seen You Me At Six sell thousands of tickets, in both a headliner capacity and in support of the likes of Fall Out Boy and Paramore, whilst batting accusations of a lack of any real substance. An absence of competition due to the demise, or at least uncertain futures, of luminary peers such as Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, allied with their Americanised vocal sound, has certainly helped raise their profile; but questions remain whether they’re more than mere copyists. In short, Hold Me Down needs to establish an identity of the band’s own.
The promisingly sinister opening tones of The Consequence ultimately peter out, sadly, leaving poster boy singer Josh Franceschi muttering like a young Daniel Johns about girl-inspired evilness through fiercely gritted teeth. While such catharsis may stem from a failed relationship of his own, one soon realises he could actually be talking about absolutely anyone’s thwarted attempts at love, such is his archetypal articulation of feelings. Rather than strike a chord, the track falls flat.
But bursting free from such generic fare, into something that almost exudes a sense of sincerity, is the bombastic ballad There’s No Such Thing as Accidental Infidelity. An instant highlight, it finishes its considered diatribe with stirring, slow beats that would have been sure to pull the heartstrings had they stretched the track out another minute. Yet despite this questionable economy, it’s still the standout track on the album.
Five years ago, this record would have been accused of riding some coattails. Today, it's simply a carefully polished and highly competent, nearly retrospective collection of pop-rock songs from a band that, even at a young age, has nothing to say that hasn't been said by others before them (and, inarguably, said better). As Fireworks closes the album, Franceschi moans about a girl who blew her chance; you can’t help but think You Me At Six, in such a privileged position, have done the same.