Album Review: Cavalier Youth

English post-hardcore rock band You Me at Six has started to mellow out a bit on its newest record titled Cavalier Youth. But mellow does not necessarily mean great, or even very good for that matter. This record has a few bright points, but most of it loses its charm very quickly with mediocrity in vocals and instrument structure that blend together from song to song. Where the record shines, it shines. Where it does not, it falls flat on its face and tries really hard to get back up again, only to repeat the process until the album finishes.

I must have a thing for opening tracks, because the opening track on this record is probably one of the best. “Too Young To Feel This Old” is a hard hitting, standout performance with a soaring, catchy melody and shining guitar work. If any track is worth a download, it’s this one.

“Lived a Lie” is nothing really special, and it didn’t really jump out to me. The next track “Fresh Start Fever” sounds like a cut from Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High. Loud thumping drums and a manic beat really add some liveliness to the record, and the song did stay with me after listening. These tracks are short-lived, however, as this is where the album begins to quickly fall into routine and languish.

The main problem with the rest of the tracks is the vocals. Front man Josh Franceschi’s vocal style lends itself to this type of issue, but it’s not solely his fault. Perhaps the band didn’t arrange the songs well enough on the album, or maybe they wrote too many that had similar notes, sounds and structure. Even if this was the case, they didn’t write them to the best of their ability. The songs sound very similar and the vocals all hover in one specific area and never quite leave it.

I can tell Franceschi is passionate about what he’s singing, but the writing fails him here. Out of the following few tracks, the one that stands out is “Hope For The Best.” The chorus is catchy enough to warrant a notice on my mental list, and the harmony is well done. The instruments here sound pretty strong as well, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

The last track “Wild Ones” is another track that really stands out for me. I guess the bookends of the album really are the best, as this track has a fantastic chorus and is slow and ballad-like in structure. It’s a very nice farewell and is the longest song on the record, to really let listeners savor one of the few good moments of the album.

You Me At Six is known for its post-hardcore sound, but after deciding to lighten up a bit on its newest release, the effort falls somewhat flat. If the band can take the pieces of the record that work and combine that with previous efforts that are much better – like 2008’s Take Off Your Colours – then we’ll have a great record on our hands. For now, though, the members of You Me At Six will have to lick their wounds and re-evaluate where to go from here.