Saturday, December 18, 2010

Album Review: You Me at Six - Hold Me Down (3/5)

Still revisiting releases from earlier this year, I thought I'd try something that didn't make it on to the Metacritic lists. English rock band You Me at Six have garnered following since their roaring debut 2 years ago. They've landed a couple moderate hits in the UK, but I haven't paid any attention until now—their sophomore Hold Me Down is quite a charging mix of American styled rock, punk and pop—the combination successfully mastered on some standout tracks and not so well on others.

The thundering drums and electronic guitars of “The Consequences” kick things off, sounds quite archetypal really, but better is the electrifying “Underdog,” punchy choruses and exhorted guitar and drum patterns, understandable that it landed the album its biggest hit (even if it was only a modest peak at #49) It's quite radio-friendly too. Following is “Playing the Blame Game,” another high-flying guitar-drum driven belter.

While “Underdog” capitalizes nicely on that punk, rock/pop combination—there are better tracks in its middle section such as “Liquid Confidence,” which starts off quite mild, with light hovering hi hats and Glee-styled harmonising, before heavy electronic guitars, drums and boisterous vocals kick in for the All-American Reject styled chorus. “Hard to Swallow,” draws upon that same style, with a bit more of a tuneful chorus and harder rocky undertones, but still very accessible. The soaring Daughtry influences on “There's No Such Thing As a Accidental Infidelity,” are quite nice too.

There are a a lot exceptions, but I'm that big on rock without heavy pop influences, so a lot on here just doesn't do it for me unfortunately—although they're not bad tracks, I just don't see myself listening to them much, I'm talking about tracks such as “Trophy Eyes” which I don't mind, but rely too heavily on its piercing layered guitar-driven undertones, without any distinctive melody.

Hold Me Down was a recommendation from a friend, who's really into American-styled punk/rock and pushed me to give this a try and while I appreciate the sound You Me at Six pursue, It's not one I'll come back to for successive listens. I think there are other bands that do this sound better, such as American rock band Just Surrender—although this album does have some great highlights.

Best: Liquid Confidence, Underdog, Hard to Swallow, Playing the Blame Game

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