Ask the average man on the street to name a pop-punk band and you'll get no shortage of answers. It could be Green Day, Sum 41, Fall-Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, MxPx, Alkaline Trio, Blink-182, The Donnas, Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, Descendants or Bowling For Soup.
Hone in your question to include only British bands and watch the knowledgeable expression drain away. After much head scratching and pondering the best you're likely to get in response is Busted or McFly. Neither of which are renowned for their artistic credibility. Clearly, whereas America is drowning in the genre, Britain seems indifferent.
While not quite in the league of "Milo Goes to College", "From Here to Infirmary", "Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge", "Clarity", "Dear Hot Chick" or "Take This To Your Grave" and somehow more American than all the mentioned combined (despite the band being from Surrey) You Me At Six have set their sights on entering the big leagues without the gunge-tank promotional tour which Busted and McFly subjected themselves to.
While this is perhaps somewhat unorthodox and likely lands us in the realm of 'Promotional Feature' (no money has changed hands we assure you) we invite you to sample a single track from "Take Off Your Colours" as we take this review interactive.
It's a somewhat pointless task to argue that these boys don't know their way around decent mainstream punk music. With their not-remotely-British charm, ear for melody and good old-fashioned pace they achieve the holy grail of the genre. The memorable hook! "Save It For the Bedroom" is not the only instance. "If You Run", "Nasty Habits", "Call That A Comeback" and "The Rumour" all claim a similar feat to varying degrees.
To zoom in on "If You Run" for a brief time. It's one of those rare songs which gives a distinct finger-shaped insult to radio stations in that nothing particularly interesting happens for the first two minutes. Try to imagine the kind of radio stations who edited Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" to excise the introduction playing this track, and it's a case of 'probability zero'. At that midway mark though, a beefier backing underlines the song but still it continues in its pedestrian nature. Once the bridge kicks in though (that's the part that goes "i got one good reason to keep you on your feet and i got another in the back, home in a seat") the effect is undeniable. Write this line on you pre-ordered tombstone right now, its lifespan is longer than yours. Deal with it. Most labels would have forced a band to retool such a bridge into chorus-land and repeat it ad-nauseum. You know, like "Sugar, We're Going Down". Through its briefness though, the effect is discernibly weightier.
You Me At Six also display a semi-unique ability to master the slower songs as well. Packed towards the end of the album "Always Attract" and "The Rumour" fill this department. "Always Attract" segues from arpeggio'd beginnings with the aid of guest female vocalist #21 (we forget their names) right the way up to buzzsaw guitar lines and a pounding finale. "The Rumour" meanwhile almost touches similar turf to Fightstar in its pacey loud/quiet dynamic which culminates in the most stirring of finales which can be guaranteed audience participation. What would you expect with a coda which repeats "Hold your hands up in the air, hold your hands up as if you care." sung by the entire band?
For an album of this type though fifty-one minutes is far too lengthy. If every single song were indispensable this would not be an issue. But songs such as "Gossip", "You've Made Your Bed (So Sleep In It)" and "Tigers and Sharks" could easily be jettisoned in favour of granting increased mobility to the album as a whole. While the ratio bends towards 'killer' as opposed to 'filler' a small amount of chopping could have done the world of good.
Maybe the Americanised approach was a good idea after all. Since in this country all you have to look forward to is endless swipes from the indie-elitists and tours packed with U16 Girls. Respect is unlikely to be the watchword for You Me At Six, but at least it's better than the gunge tank.