Album Review: You Me At Six – VI

You Me At Six have taken the best of their past and added a whole lot of future to create one of the best records you’ll hear this year. 

If you think you know You Me At Six, VI will make you think again. The Surrey five-piece may have previously been marked as emo pop-rock, but their new record is here to change everything for this band. It’s moody, melodic and god damn addictive. It’s most definitely not what you’re expecting.

“We’ve always been a band that straddles styles,” says singer Josh Franceschi. “We’ve always had that pop sensibility, but we’ve tried not to pigeonhole ourselves – that’s come from other people. If we want to make another six albums, we have to maintain the foundations of what makes this band good, and we have to be contemporary and forward thinking.”

“We’re five individual blokes,” guitarist Max Helyer says, “but when we mash together in a band, something great happens. I’m not saying it happens every time, but sometimes something unbelievable happens.”

The follow-up to 2017’s Night People is what happens when a band can truly focus on creating music. Since their last record, You Me At Six had changed labels, in fact, they now have their own label via AWAL/Kobalt – new management, new work ethic. Before Night People, they hadn’t written any songs for three years.

Last November, they went for a writing session with Eg White, whose versatility has seen him write with and for Adele, Linkin Park, Florence + the Machine and Kylie, among scores of others. That first session yielded immediate returns in the shape of Losing You and Fast Forward, the album’s opening track, and one of its two lead songs, along with 3AM.

Working with White opened the floodgates, not just to songwriting, but to sounds, because of his experience in electronic music. This influence is especially audible in tracks like Back Again. Recorded at  Vada Studios in the West Midlands and produced by Dan Austin, the band completed 11 songs in just 34 days of tracking.

But nothing about the album feels rushed at all, on the contrary, it feels sleek and flawless. Tracks like Miracle In The Mourning takes their signature sound and adds a big punch of pop to it. Lead single 3AM proves that this new found confidence really pays off. You Me At Six have created a collection of songs that work across a multitude of outlets, mainstream radio as well as on the stages of rock festivals, and most certainly in the arenas of this world. In fact, these huge-sounding tracks will make you hungry for the band’s upcoming live dates.

Pray For Me and I O U are probably the most pop-infused songs on VI. There’s a heavy R&B influence present that will very much appeal to a wider audience outside of their set fan base. But they are also probably the tracks that some of the old-school fans will find harder to accept. But if you can’t appreciate your favorite band evolving and creating new sounds with their raw talent, then that’s on you.

Album closer Losing You is wonderfully smooth, Franceschi’s vocals will have a bit of a chill sent down your spine in this one. It’s no big bang finish, but it’s beautiful and respective of the band’s new direction.

“You have to make music for yourself,” Franceschi concludes, “because without authenticity people are going to smell the bullshit. None of us are going to into this with any fear, because we’ve made something we can stand behind.”

And they’re right on the money, literally. VI is an album that will not only appeal to their existing fanbase but win them a whole bunch of new ones. The record is nothing short of a winner.