Photo Credit: Daniel Harris
On their seventh studio album SUCKAPUNCH, the English quintet known as You Me At Six face a turning point in their careers. By a seventh album, most groups have fallen into a comfortable lull of what works for them while others are ready to take the leap and reinvent themselves. Having gone into the album thinking it would be their last one, frontman John Franceschi approached recording with the mindset of having nothing to lose. The result is a fiery rock record that gives new life to a band that had started to lose their spark.
The gritty alt-rock they’ve come to be known for shines brighter on this record, although the group combines an array of influences from hip-hop beats to electronic soundscapes to diversify SUCKAPUNCH from anything they had ever done before. Lead guitarist Max Helyer skillfully drives the album forward with his electrifying riffs that define the band. Listeners get a taste of the new sound on “WYDRN”, which takes a step back from heavy guitars and takes a sample-based approach while keeping the signature You Me At Six flavor.
On an album punctuated by it’s urgency, there are few breaks from the overpowering guitars and loud choruses. “Glasgow” is one of those songs to take a breath on, it’s a melancholic song about a painful breakup that never seems to end. “Adrenaline” is an Imagine Dragon-esque banger that aptly starts to bring the energy back up before kicking it back to high energy choruses on “Voicenotes.” The fast-paced album makes the 43 minutes fly by while keeping listeners engaged.
Franceschi delivers biting vocal performances from the gruff and rasping “MAKEMEFEELALIVE” to the festival ready chorus of “Beautiful Way”, which practically compels the listener to bang their head while screaming, “we’re f*cked up in a beautiful way” along with him. Franceschi’s vocal prowess is clear across the eleven tracks, making it clear why the majority of experimentation was done to production elements and instrumentation.
For the most part, this experimentation works, giving You Me at Six a new way to approach music and their sound. However, some songs do fall a little flat, and the closing track “What’s it Like” is one of those missteps. The trap/hip-hop influenced beats feel out of place with the rest of SUCKAPUNCH and doesn’t do much to tie the album together.
Overall, SUCKAPUNCH follows the path of career defining seventh albums like Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run or AC/DC’s Back in Black. The hard hitting nature of the album solidifies it as a career turning point and opens up the door for You Me At Six to stay at the forefront of rock music.