Band: Sleeping With Sirens
Title: Let’s Cheers to This
Released: May 10th 2011
Label: Rise Records
Producer: Kris Crummett
On their debut album, Sleeping with Sirens were a typical ‘screamo’ band, playing up-tempo songs with a mixture of screamed and clean vocals. They’ve altered their sound for this, their second album, infusing a heavy dose of pop into their music and removing practically all of the screaming. The result is now what I’d call ‘alternative pop’ if I had to make a genre assessment!
The vocals are at high-pitched end of the spectrum (interpreted as ‘whiny’ by some), so if that’s not your thing, this vocalist is going to have you clenching your back teeth by the second line of the first verse.
I gave this band a listen when they released their first album and I didn’t like it and to be honest I would have passed this one by had I not seen ‘Kris Crummett’ on the production credits. That said, I gave it a go and happily, ‘Let’s Cheers to This’ is much better than the debut album. Despite the vocals being extremely high in pitch (borderline female), he does have a very impressive voice and uses it to good effect throughout the album, utilising his ability to reach ridiculous notes to deliver some unique melodies.
It doesn’t take you long to realise that you aren’t on a journey of originality, but that’s hardly the point of an album like this. The guitars plod on harmlessly, providing the chords necessary to compliment the relentless energy of the rhythm section, all of which is uplifted by some excellent vocal work. It’s alternative pop done rather well: simple, uncomplicated, catchy and above all a lot of fun. It seems harmless enough. If only that were the case. The first track is a great opener, introducing the audience to some great hooks, but once you move onto track two, obstacles appear that limit your enjoyment. Chief of which is the lyrics.
I’m a sucker for a great melody and if there’s one thing that pop music has going for it, and for the most part there is only one thing going for it, it’s that when it’s done well it has some great melody. Some pop songs, no matter how much you try and hate them, crawl into your head and refuse to die. That’s where their power lies. Where it fails is that it’s mundane: the artists have no care for what they’re singing about (because they didn’t write it for the most part) and despite the fact that they hold very large audiences in the palms of their hands, they don’t use their status to stimulate thought or get people to question intelligent subject matters. It’s for this reason that I get incensed by alternative acts such as this going down the same path.
The essence of the problem can be summarised using the pre-chorus to ‘If You Can’t Hang’, which has such a brilliant melody that it demands you sing along as loudly as possible. The problem is that if you do, you’ll be singing these words: “you’re such a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty face but you turned into a pretty big waste of my time.” The genius of a great chorus is that you find yourself singing it at random intervals throughout the day, but whenever this tune gets in my head I stop and think “no, I’m not singing that, it’s ridiculous.” I know that the importance of lyrics in music is subject to personal preference, but for me the lyrics hold this album back and prevent it being a really good pop album. What is the point of a great, catchy hook if the words are so ridiculous and mundane that you wouldn’t want to sing along? The result is that you’ll only listen to this album when you’re on your own, because it’s embarrassing. I don’t want to be embarrassed by music that I like, I want to be able to recommend it with enthusiasm. Unfortunately I can’t do that with ‘Let’s Cheers to This’ because if I do, my referred friends will listen to the lyrics and assume I’ve turned into a 10 year old girl.
It’s not just what is being said that bothers me, it’s what it signifies that’s annoying. Lyrics of this nature are lazy and infantile and they automatically narrow your audience to kids. That’s fine if you’re a high-school band, but these guys are in their mid-twenties and they could be doing much more with their obvious talent for song-writing than pandering to children. ‘Let’s Cheers to This’ could, and should, be a great summer pop anthem and it definitely has its moments of brilliance, but there are so many cringe-worthy moments that if you’re over 16, you’d be better off not telling anybody that you like it.