Wednesday, 29 October 2014
'Cavalier Youth: Special Edition' by You Me At Six
I reviewed 'Cavalier Youth' when it was first released all the way back at the start of the year, and this is what I said then:
"Following the release of lead single 'Lived A Lie' and follow-up 'Fresh Start Fever', my expectations of You Me At Six's fourth full-length were raised pretty high. Their third release 'Sinners Never Sleep', released just over two years ago, reached number 3 on the UK album charts and inspired a live DVD of their biggest headline show to date, aptly titled 'The Final Night Of Sin'. With TFNOS being the highest point of YMAS's career to ate, the follow-up needed to be spectacular.
However, it falls short of the mark. In the past I've criticised Josh Franceschi's lyrics for being lazy (an example being during 'Crash' when he croons 'I know I've said this all before'). This is still a major fault with their newest release. Opening song 'Too Young To Feel This Old' contains the lyric 'what happens next, who cares?' which immediately makes me answer 'I don't'. 'Win Some, Lose Some', 'Cold Night' and 'Wild Ones' are too slow and repetitive, causing the feeling that something essential is lacking in this album that has never been absent in a YMAS release before.
The album picks up drastically during 'Hope For The Best', with a fast paced intro which grabs the audience, the lyrics 'I hope for the best, I prepare for the worst' showing that despite being a band that can sell out Wembley Arena, Franceschi still has doubts and he hasn't let the fame get to his head. 'Love Me Like You Used To' is another high point on the album and when Franceschi demands 'Love me like you used to [...] just love me like you need me' fans are not going to refuse.
'Be Who You Are' is, for me, the biggest disappointment on the album. After the speedy delivery of 'Love Me Like You Used To', it feels awkwardly placed in the track listing, making the album sound more mix-and-match than a final, polished product. With a run-time of 1:48, the song sounds unfinished and incomplete, with the cliched sentiment 'You are my little star' making me feel sick for the sugary sweetness.
Followed by the uplifting and inspiring 'Carpe Diem', soon to be a stadium anthem adored by all YMAS fans, 'Be Who You Are' just seems inconsequential and unnecessary. 'Carpe Diem' feels more honest to YMAS and, along with 'Lived A Lie' and 'Fresh Start Fever', is one of the only songs that I could envision at any point in their back catalogue.
It's good to see the band going in a new direction and you can definitely feel that the experiences that they gathered during their last album cycle have impacted their writing style, as you can feel that they're aiming towards stadium fillers, even if they do miss the mark on a few songs. Old YMAS fans will not be turned off and they're likely to gather a few more in, especially with the close 'Wild Ones' giving an atmospheric feel that will appeal to London Grammar fans and will be massive on the festival circuit this summer. I just can't imagine this album having as big an impact on YMAS's career as the game-changing 'Sinners Never Sleep'."
Apparently 'Cavalier Youth' was destined to have a big impact on You Me At Six's career, because it ended up shooting to number one, their first album to reach such a high position. I have always had a disconnect with You Me At Six recently released albums; it took me three or four months to like 'Hold Me Down' and a good few listens to appreciate the skill and talent showcased on 'Sinners Never Sleep'.
However, I still don't really understand why everyone is so enamoured with this album. I still love the singles ('Lived A Lie' and 'Fresh Start Fever' respectively) while 'Room To Breathe' and 'Forgive and Forget' seemed extremely forgettable the first time I heard the album but now they're probably my two favourite tracks after experiencing them live at Alexandra Palace back in April. 'Hope For The Best' and 'Carpe Diem' are still brilliant, but as a whole it still doesn't feel like a cohesive collection of songs, so I still feel like I'm walking away more confused than satisfied by this release.
So you might be wondering "if you didn't like the album that much the first time around and you still don't particularly love it now, why did you order the re-release?"
Partially because of the beautiful repackaging; the black and white is reminiscent of 'Sinners Never Sleep' and I think it's so well designed, with amazing photography.
But the main reason?
There is a simple answer to that question - the acoustic tracks.
Since the release of their Record Store Day vinyl back in 2011, I have been a strong advocate for You Me At Six to do an acoustic, unplugged album, so with these five tracks I get a bit of a taste of what I've always been craving. Acoustic You Me At Six is far better than normal You Me At Six and I could argue this until the cows come home. After experiencing their secret set at Reading, in which they played these five songs, I knew I had to pre-order it and I've been anticipating its release for the last two months.
The rearrangement of 'Lived A Lie' is much better than the original song, and the original is probably my favourite song off of 'Cavalier Youth', so it gets off to an extremely strong start. Second up, 'Fresh Start Fever' and I'm in equal parts impressed and disappointed how raw and exposed Josh Franceschi's voice is. There are pieces that seem a bit too raw and badly sung, but it adds to the emotion in the song and it makes you feel as though you're experiencing something really important. Too many bands nowadays use too many effects on their music, even when attempting to get a live sounding recording, so these Dean Street Studios sessions are brilliant. I still don't like 'Cold Night', so I wasn't in love with the acoustic because it still felt too boring, but 'Room To Breathe' is breathtaking. Out of all of the acoustics, 'Room To Breathe' is definitely the standout one - the guitars are brilliant and Josh's vocal is completely on point. In my opinion songs like this suit his voice much more, as sometimes during their songs I feel as though he's pushing and straining his vocals but his voice sounds so much better when he relaxes into it more. 'Wild Ones' seems like a strange one to conclude the five tracks, because after 'Room To Breathe' it just falls a little bit short. Regardless of that, it's still a really good reissue and if you haven't already picked up 'Cavalier Youth' I'd recommend getting it if you like You Me At Six doing acoustic stuff. If they don't play any acoustic songs on their February arena tour with All Time Low I'm going to be extremely disappointed, so I hope they include a couple of these to shake things up a bit.
Too Young To Feel This Old
Lived A Lie
Fresh Start Fever
Forgive and Forget
Room To Breathe
Win Some, Lose Some
Hope For The Best
Love Me Like You Used To
Be Who You Are
Lived A Lie (acoustic)
Fresh Start Fever (acoustic)
Cold Night (acoustic)
Room To Breathe (acoustic)
Wild Ones (acoustic)