Sound — 7
It may have been their pop punk/emo riffs and Emery-style harmonies that scored them a major label deal with Virgin Records after their 2008 debut, "Take Off Your Colours," but You Me At Six always had lingering desires to grow from that base. After their third album, 2011's "Sinners Never Sleep," hit their strongest emocore note by featuring prominent harsh vocalists like Oli Sykes and Winston McCall, they made a significant pivot to a pop rock sound in 2014's "Cavalier Youth," where singalongs became bigger and instrumental arrangements became more posh.
In their fifth album, "Night People," You Me At Six attempt to craft a smorgasbord of a pop rock record. Bouncing around different eras of rock, they go from riff-y blues rock revival in the eponymous opener and "Make Your Move" (with little regard for the revival sound being passé in 2017), showing a bit of shoegaze influence in the delicate "Brand New," paying homage to Nirvana in the upbeat grunge cut of "Plus One," and paying homage to bands that paid homage to Nirvana in the '90s alt rock sound in the formidable "Can't Hold Back" and the forgettable "Swear."
With the majority of tracks being straightforward, made-for-radio rockers, "Night People" still makes time for the rousing pop rock gear the band favored in their previous album. With the grandiose pop rock ballad of "Take on the World" sounding like a lackluster, Coldplay-by-numbers songwriting, the penultimate "Spell It Out" weaves a brooding atmosphere that climbs to a satisfying apex. That darkness is dispelled in the closer of "Give," which may act as a proper theme to juxtapose the former with a silver lining finish, but its sunny disposition comes off more saccharine than gripping.
Lyrics — 7
With frontman John Franceschi's lyrics maturing alongside the band's music, having grown from the emo angst of their earlier records and becoming more existential in "Cavalier Youth," his lyrics in "Night People" inch away from those musings and back towards relationship troubles. Even though Franceschi expresses his initial desire of wanting to be emotionally resilient while being under duress, both in an empowering sense ("Look in my eyes, I will never desert you / And just say the word, we'll take on the world" in "Take on the World") and a co-dependent one ("But I want you when I need you / Every single day and night" in "Plus One"), his understanding of this fading connection between himself and another ultimately can't be saved, his lyrics then bitterly appealing for a complete separation ("You and I, we will not work" in "Can't Hold Back"; "I've been wasting all my time / Trying to keep you off my mind, yeah" in "Give"). But despite his coping with such being fairly callous, he's also able to recognize the relief gained by keeping oneself from relapsing into old spite, a message he offers to everyone in "Brand New" ("And if your past calls / Don't pick it up / It's got nothing new to say").
Overall Impression — 7
Following trails already blazed by plenty of acts before them, You Me At Six's pop rock efforts continue to be derivative rather than inventive. But as opposed to their previous album's pop rock initiative stuck on crafting rousing arena rock ballads, "Night People" does better than its predecessor, pulling inspiration from more sources in order to make an album that showcases a more interesting array of styles and moods.