If you’re going to want to stand out in the extremely saturated ‘Warped Tour’ scene of present day, it’s certainly going to take a lot of time and effort. The same goes when you develop your sound in hope of attracting an audience or retaining your own. Some have succeeded where others (such as the Limp Bizkit-on-crack collective that is Falling in Reverse) have abysmally failed. For the Kellin Quinn-fronted quintet Sleeping With Sirens, though, results have varied quite a lot. Following two heavier albums at the start of their career, they eventually took a detour and have subsequently ended up on Pop Street. Their new studio album Madness is out now.
Kick Me’s crackling feedback and sinister riff initially sets the pace with an upbeat and powerful chorus which sees the high-pitched Quinn proclaim, “fuck you and your opinion” before preceding the chorus with the bold statement, “you don’t know shit about me”. It’s a high-octane album opener which shows no signs of stopping as a heavy riff makes way for some rare screams from Quinn. Go Go Go strays away from the heavier side of things, entering the pop spectrum with a subtle distortion guitar in the chorus. “Why don’t we crash and burn tonight?” asks an energetic sounding Quinn as ad-libbed vocals and lovelorn lyrics intertwine with Gabe Barham’s pounding drums and upbeat guitar work from Jack Fowler and Nick Martin. Go Go Go is a modern pop-rock anthem, on par with contemporaries such as Paramore or Issues. Strummed acoustic guitars and a pounding bass drum open Gold as the band take a step back from energetic proceedings. “We made our mistakes, it’s not too late” sings Quinn in the chorus, a chorus which begs for lighters and arms in the air. Save Me a Spark takes Gold’s core pop elements and builds on them further in a track which sounds extremely unlike the fierce Sleeping With Sirens of pre-2013. The guitars are there, albeit rather inaudible as their distortion is replaced by a polished sheen. Fly sees the return of the guitars as the drums make for a more danceable intro and chorus, complete with chanted vocal elements and lyrics concerning heartbreak and “flying away, away, away”.
As the album approaches its halfway point, The Strays sends us back down Ballad Street, taking an older route which gives the song a distinct Sleeping With Sirens feeling akin to their older slow songs. “All my life they said I’d be nothing, but I’m something” declares Quinn before a whistled interlude and powerful chorus brings the track to an end. Left Alone continues where Save Me a Spark left off with an opening piano melody and ambient, almost EDM-like, electronics underpinning the whole affair. It eventually all comes together in one of the strongest choruses on the album, with Better Off Dead proceeding to pick the energy back up again. Justin Hill’s pulsating bass helps the verses flow nicely, with a fast-paced chorus perhaps proving itself ready for a moshpit or two (probably not). “How come no one heard her when she said, ‘maybe I’m better off dead?’” asks Kellin ahead of an impressive bridge section that places more emphasis on Barham’s impressive drumming. We Like it Loud brings the heaviness back momentarily as a monumental scream from Quinn kicks the wheels of the song into motion. It’s a simple, straightforward headbanger with impressive vocals that demonstrate Quinn’s still-present ability to scream.
All hope that We Like it Loud presented was quickly relinquished by Heroine, which is yet another bog-standard acoustic ballad with predictable lyrics, a track which would’ve been better off dead (pun possibly intended). The first hints of piano and strings enter the frame on November, with these instrumental elements adding a thoughtful sense of layering to the track. “There’s a fire in this November sky” sings Quinn, before penultimate track Madness enters full on acoustic ballad territory, just like a handful of the tracks that preceded it. It builds up nicely as Don’t Say Anything gives the album the explosive ending it deserves, with distorted riffs and a massive chorus intertwining nicely. “Breathe in, breathe out, some way, somehow” demands Quinn before vocalizing his hatred for the town he lives in. The track ends on a powerful rock-out and mix of “na na na”’s, giving the record a hopeful and positive ending.
Madness isn’t a game changing record by any means, yet there’s still enough on it to keep you interested. It’s the sound of a band who are progressing and still finding their core sound, something which you can’t blast them for. The lack of powerful, heavy songs is made up for by the energy present in the songs that are there, and most choruses are big enough to fill a stadium. It’s a decent record, and one that will certainly attract them the attention they deserve.
Madness is out now via Epitaph Records.