Following an impressive debut album, Take Off Your Colours (2008), that established them as one of England's hottest up-and-coming rock bands, You Me at Six sound great once again on their second full-length effort, Hold Me Down, but are weighed down by an uninventive set of lyrics dwelling to no end on lead singer Josh Franceschi's recent breakup. Just prior to the recording of Hold Me Down, Franceschi broke up with his girlfriend, and in song after song, he alludes to the relationship in his lyrics, finding bountiful inspiration in heartbreak. The lyrics are so direct on songs like "Safer to Hate Her," "There's No Such Thing as Accidental Infidelity," and worst of all, the album-closing "Fireworks," that it's a bit embarrassing to behold, as if Franceschi were singing directly from the tear-stained pages of his personal journal. One wonders what the unnamed girl must think of Hold Me Down, an album almost entirely about her and how much she hurt Franceschi. It's too bad that You Me at Six couldn't have come up with a more inventive set of lyrics. From a musical standpoint, the songs are as good as last time, especially the first couple, "The Consequence" and "Underdog." Producers Matty O'Grady and John Mitchell are at the helm once again, re-creating the sharp-edged punk-pop sound of Take Off Your Colours. The dual-guitar attack of Max Helyer and Chris Miller is the highlight of Hold Me Down, as they come up with several memorable riffs, most notably on "Hard to Swallow," and carry the album along with bassist Matt Barnes and drummer Dan Flint. As for Franceschi, he's a gifted vocalist with charisma to spare, and he's surely the star of the show on Hold Me Down. If only he were a more creative songwriter. Hopefully he gets over his breakup and comes up with better lyrics next time.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier