You Me at Six - Hold Me Down
Release Date: March 16, 2010
Record Label: Virgin
If the scene were a shower drain, it'd certainly need weekly fixes of Drano to unclog the pipes for every pop-rock band that shuffles their way into the mix. Not to mention the massive amount of hair buildup that would gather at the bottom (is that a dead badger or Jac Vanek's wig?). You Me at Six are one of the few international acts to spring up over the past couple years, presenting a familiar touch of gravitas with a shiny, well-constructed offering to satisfy the masses who flock to street team signups like police sirens to Lil'Wayne's hot tub.
Hold Me Down is the band's by-the-numbers follow-up to 2008's Take Off Your Colours, which in itself was no spectacular achievement. Basic pop chords over a flurry of orchestrated production lead to big results in their homeland (England), and eventually scored them a major-label deal with Virgin. The songs are still as trite as before, albeit a little heavier, a bit splashier... but lack the charm of their debut. You see, You Me at Six are beginning to nudge their way into an overcrowded market and it's becoming a chore to tell all these acts apart. The thematic material is all steam but no lust, the hooks are run-of-the-mill and by the time it hits its climax, it's generic centerpiece feels unfulfilled. "The Consequence" strives to be a landmark opener but staggers in its middle-school wordplay. "Underdog" triumphs as a serious potential hit, and while "Liquid Confidence" might be a tad overzealous and downright demeaning ("If one can drink can make tonight slip your mind, then you should drink up so you can convince yourself that I'm cute"), vocalist Josh Franceschi maneuvers the melody enough to give it some life. "Safe To Hate Her" and "Contagious Chemistry," however, play it safe by being banal, tiresome cliches of previous tracks. Awkward sexuality lurks its way into vague lyrics ("This love is dirtier than you think"), and upon several occasions, the content is so unapologetically vague, you feel as if not even Franceschi knows exactly what he's talking about ("When we die, do we feel alive" is randomly placed into a song about forcing one's self to stay out of love with a girl one is fearful of losing).
Part of the problem is the songs blend together. None of the other band members, save for Franceschi, get the chance to prevail on their own and make themselves heard. Like many of their peers, what the demographic is looking for are lyrics to post on Twitter, not musical interludes or artistic experimentation to feel inspired by. You get exactly what you expect, and that's ultimately the tragic flaw in Hold Me Down: every piece of the puzzle is largely making up the same picture. Once you realize it's a painting of an ordinary blue sky, you simply want to get up and find something that challenges you. You Me at Six do have the means necessary to shake up this current crop: they have the melodies, the talent... it just needs to be leveled off and given some breathing room. For a band that postures enough beacons of hope, it's frustrating to find out they can't even muster up the courage to be let up when they're obviously remaining held down.
Good review, Chris. I actually love this album though, sure it's generic and all but I just find it to be a great pop rock record. What did you think of the song There's No Such Thing as Accidental Infidelity? Definitely my favorite track.
Nothing groundbreaking, but I really dig this record. I have probably spun this disc about 20 times, and I'm still not tired of it. I'm a sucker for catchy music, even if the lyrical content is pretty weak.
I disagree so much. I love this album. The only thing is that I think it's a bit overproduced. But I've had the cd for some time (since it came out in UK) and listen to it atleast 3 times a week. Am I getting tired of it? No, I won't ever.
(And no, I don't dig them because of Joshs hair. I don't give a damn about it.)