You Me at Six – Suckapunch
British band You Me at Six must at times feel unlucky. Breaking through in 2008, they just missed out on the British guitar boom of the mid-2000s – a time when almost any band with a catchy riff and nice hair could trouble the top of the singles charts. Their blending of styles (hard and pop rock, emo, punk, indie, as well as in recent years electronica and R&B), has won them a loyal fanbase and made them one of Britain’s best-loved groups – but perhaps without the level of mainstream recognition some of their less adventurous predecessors received. Their seventh album Suckapunch is the latest stage of an evolution that takes them into even more new territory. .
The record opens with riff-driven rock opener Nice to Me, which offers no surprises, but after the next two tracks Makemefeelalive and Beautiful Way, fans could be forgiven for thinking the group were returning to their screamo and emo roots (albeit blending the latter song with hooks and verses that float along in contrast with its blaring expletive-laden chorus). From there, Suckapunch takes a rather different turn.
WYDRN incorporates the woozy trap beats that have become a staple of modern pop – from SoundCloud rappers to Drake and Justin Bieber – but here they sound fresh on a song that’s still got some rock sensibilities. Title track Suckapunch meanwhile, takes an electro dance beat and gradually subsumes it in their favoured emotional rock. The genre-bending doesn’t end there: without guitarist Chris Miller’s interventions and with different production, Kill the Mood could be mistaken for the kind of mid-2000s R&B beloved of Justin Timberlake and his many imitators.
The Surrey five-piece then slow things down with morose indie ballad Glasgow, which builds to a crescendo and is perhaps the purest expression of the album’s central theme of moving on from heartbreak and personal troubles. Much of Suckapunch was recorded in Thailand after Franceschi, Miller and rhythm guitarist Max Helyer had suffered break-ups. The tracks that follow, Adrenaline and Voicenotes, feel like a lull before the group end things with the crowdpleasers Finish What I Started and the already released single What It’s Like, the latter a synth-filled rock barnstormer that is the best song on the record.
If there’s a problem with Suckapunch it’s that, with the possible exception of Beautiful Way, this closing flourish stands out a little too much from what’s gone before. It demands the listener’s attention in the way that emotional pop rock should and some of its predecessors on the album do not – not by being subtle or clever, but with shallow operatic bombast.
Make no mistake there are few if any bad songs on Suckapunch, and many You Me at Six fans will enjoy, despite the decision to explore new ground. It’s just that sometimes accomplishment is a little less thrilling than hearing a band let rip at what they can do better than most.
is released on 15th January 2021. For further information or to order the album visit You Me at Six’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Beautiful Way here: