Before I say anything about this album it has to be acknowledged that at the time of writing this “You Are We” by Sheffield locals While She Sleeps sits at number seven in the official album chart. From a band with a DIY ethos (You Are We was only made possible by fans pledging money to support its production) and a sound that is nowhere near the safe and soft indie sounds mainstream music is used to, You Are We is a shining beacon and testament to heavy music.
While She Sleeps have managed to produce a more commercialised sound without losing that anger and their heavy roots, reflected in tracks like “Hurricane” and “You Are We” where you have unmistakable heavy guitar riffs and double bass drum rhythms stuck in your head. This entire album is a testament to the place and possibility heavy music has to turn the current music hegemony on its head.
“The band are good at knowing too much of the same thing isn’t always the best approach.”
The mission statement is clear with opening track “You Are We”, the quiet clean guitars in the intro instantly traded in with Loz’s bellow of “You are we”, opening up to the crescendo of music that flows through the rest of the album. There are welcome respites though, the band are good at knowing too much of the same thing isn’t always the best approach. The refrains in “Civil Isolation” and “Empire of Silence” are timed perfectly to prepare the listener for the contrast of when the whole band comes back to give it extra punch.
“This album had moments of aesthetically pleasing lyrics at the expense of real meaning.”
There are, however, a few weak points to address; first and foremost this album saw the release of five singles before the actual album dropped. Being eleven tracks long this was nearly half the album which did take away much of the initial discovery and unknown element of the first few listens. This may just be my own personal preference however. A broader criticism is the shift in lyrical content, unlike Brainwashed I felt, at points; this album had moments of aesthetically pleasing lyrics at the expense of real meaning. As an example “You can steal the sun but there’s a light you can’t replace” off the track “Steal the Sun”, I can definitely see the general thrust of this lyric but it seems to have been bogged down in pretty imagery which cost the words that punch I admire from the band.
Despite these minor reservations however this is a superb album. While She Sleep have a big future ahead of them and there is no one I would rather have representing heavy music in mainstream music than the Sheffield heavyweights.