Few bands get to spring a surprise six albums into their career. Even fewer do so in as dramatic a fashion as You Me At Six do on their simply titled new record, 'VI'. They know what you probably think of them – “The emo pop-rockers from Surrey,” as guitarist Chris Miller puts it – and once upon a time you would have been right. But not for a long time, and certainly not on 'VI', a record that switches moods and styles with breathless confidence, from devastatingly defiant rock to joyously uplifting pop. It all but drips with melodies and moods. It’s the kind of record a band makes when they are in love with all the possibilities of music. 'VI' is not what you might expect a You Me At Six album to sound like.
You Me At Six needed something unbelievable to happen with 'VI', because by their own admission it didn’t happen with their last album, 'Night People', released in February 2017
This time round it wasn’t just that something had to change. Everything had to change. New label – new management, and new work ethic. That said, Helyer suggests, it was a necessary record – “It was a step in a different direction for us, musically. It was a breach, and every band needs to have that record where they make a breach.”
VI was about opening that breach, and letting the full scope of their creativity flood through. They began writing as soon as they had finished 'Night People', but things really started to catch fire last November, when they went for a writing session with Eg White, whose versatility has seen him write with and for Adele, Linkin Park, Florence + the Machine and Kylie, among scores of others.
Working with White opened the floodgates, not just to songwriting, but to sounds, because of his experience in electronic music. It gave them a vision of how many different directions were open to them. “For Miracle in the Mourning, we knew we wanted to have this dancey element, and almost R&B feel in the verses,” says drummer Dan Flint. “But it’s always going to sound like us. Even if we wrote a hip-hop song, it would sound like You Me at Six.”
Recording began in January at Vada Studios in the West Midlands, with producer Dan Austin, who became like a sixth member. The sessions were so fluid and fluent that the band completed 11 songs in just 34 days of tracking. “Sonically, Dan blew our minds,” Flint says. “And that inspires you,” Miller adds, “because you want to learn stuff from him.”
“We’re five individual blokes,” guitarist Max Helyer says, “but when we mash together in a band, something great happens. I’m not saying it happens every time, but sometimes something unbelievable happens.”