You Me At Six had a career built on defining the adolescent angst of emo teens on the back end of the mid-2000s emo movement. Pop punk and post-hardcore was being replaced with edgy alt-rock and mainstream metalcore. It was in here that You Me At Six gained traction and success with the new wave of emo kids who gravitated to a strange spectrum of easy-listening yet edgy alt -rock and angst-ridden metalcore that was dripping with just the right amount of abrasive riffs and screamo influences. Their first three albums positioned the band in the middle of this spectrum with their simplistic edgy alt-rock formula and occasional leanings towards metalcore influences. They even got Oli Sykes and Winston McCall to feature on songs in order to give them credibility with the edgier emo kids.
Fast forward to 2014, You Me At Six had just got their first number 1 album in the UK with the release of Cavalier Youth. The band performed a complete turn-around with their music and delivered a radio-friendly stadium rock album that would change the course of their career. The album saw them refining their songwriting and their entire approach to creating music. It was possibly the strongest album that they had released, until now. You Me At Six has just released their fifth studio album Night People – a dark and gritty stadium rock album that truly sees the band coming into their element.
They are at that stage in their career where they are finally finding their groove and defining their sound. This is apparent from how their songwriting has greatly improved since their debut album. That obviously comes with gaining experience but if the band had continued to purse writing angsty alternative rock they would have stuck to the lyrical tropes of love and failed romances that defined their earlier music. At face value, Night People would seem to be about nightlife in the UK, but upon deeper inspection – Night People delivers a multifaceted examination of the darker aspects of human existence. Lyrical themes hint at the doubt that is intrinsic to human existence, the darker thoughts that plagued the night hours, and they even tackle relationship problems with fine-tuned maturity.
The album opens on a gritty and loud note with title track “Night People” delivering a burst of loud stadium rock that has clearly been designed to induce mass singalongs with its meaty drumming and soaring choruses. It opens the album on a strong note and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Namely that this album is going to be wall-to-wall alternative rock designed for wooing major arenas. Intricate melodies and neatly constructed guitar riffs dripping with the grit of the London nightlife dominate the album on songs like “Heavy Soul” and “Swear”. These are neatly complemented by Josh Franeschi’s dynamic vocals which easily switch between melodic, soulful croonings and edgier alt-rock snarls.
However, Night People is not just a rowdy alt-rock album. It has a softer side that comes out on songs like “Take On The World” and “Give” which see You Me At Six pursuing a much softer sound as acoustic guitars and piano melodies come out to support Francheschi’s vocals. However, “Give” fades into electric guitar parts and this shows how dynamic You Me At Six can be as a band. They have several songs on Night People that transition from softer, melodic sections straight into bawdy stadium-rock singalongs. It is this dynamic that shows that they are a band truly in their prime.