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You Me At Six - Hold Me Down

Released 11 Jan 2010 // By Phill May // Rating: 4/5
You Me At Six - Hold Me Down

It’s an understatement, but You Me At Six have had quite a ride over the last couple of years; seeing their profile take a steep rise that's taken them from smaller venues to recently supporting Paramore on a UK arena tour. Pressure has been high to deliver the follow-up to impact-making debut 'Take Off Your Colours', but 'Hold Me Down' is just the kind of sophomore record a band could hope to make.

It retains their identity, but takes a step further. Franceschi’s vocals don’t sound any different, but everything else has more bite; riffs stab, drums snap, the lyrics are sharper. In short, 'Hold Me Down' showcases a massive improvement on an already impressive debut. The 'pop punk' tag is now less precise, and though you could hardly say the material is darker, it's definitely grittier and more mature. Listeners can be thankful, considering the impact the deterioration of Franceschi’s long-term relationship has had on the lyrics. According to interviews, lyrics were rewritten to encompass the sudden downturn in the vocalist’s life. And while that means lyrics include "It'd be safer to hate her/Than love her and lose her" ('Safer To Hate Her'), "You've got a lot to say for the one that pushed me away" ('Stay With Me') and even a delightful "You bitch"('Contagious Chemistry'), it’s not actually that overpowering.

From the evidence provided that might still sound cringeworthy, but make no mistakes about it: this album has songs. 'Trophy Eyes' is dynamic, almost epic. Closing number 'Fireworks' escapes the 'obligatory ballad's knack for toe-curling cheese by being perceptive and moving; a song that's both deeply personal to the vocalist and relatable to the band's audience. But ultimately it's the opening trio of songs that knock you for (ahem) six. 'Underdog' and 'Playing the Blame Game' are punchy, engaging and catchy as hell, and opener 'The Consequence' (featuring The Blackout's Sean Smith) is arguably their finest song to date, an enviable live favourite in the making.

Half as saccharine but just as infectious as 'Take Off Your Colours', the lyrical content could easily have led to an album of songs reminiscent of Adam Sandler’s 'Somebody Kill Me' in The Wedding Singer, but for all the hurt and angst, You Me At Six have put together a stellar album that existing fans will lap up and new fans will flock to.