Review: “Madness” by Sleeping With Sirens
Sleeping With Sirens released their new album “Madness” just in time for the European leg of their world tour, which is a co-headlining tour with California quartet Pierce The Veil. I’ve been a fan of Sleeping With Sirens for a few years and own the full back-catalogue; their popularity continues to grow worldwide as they play larger venues with each tour that they embark on. Therefore, there was a bit of a buzz about the new record – although there have been mixed reactions from the fans, with some feeling that the band have taken too much of a directional change with their sound. You can never please everyone, guys!
There’s no mistaking that the band have been experimenting with some new sounds on this record – their fourth full length album. Since the release of the previous album “Feel” in 2013, guitarist Jesse Lawson left the band to pursue other projects and has since been replaced by Nick Martin – but the change in direction cannot entirely be attributed to the change in lineup, with the quintet previously showcasing a more stripped-back style on acoustic EP “If You Were A Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack” in 2012.
So, what does the album actually sound like? As a whole, “Madness” doesn’t have quite the same initial hard-hitting impact as some of the previous records. That being said, there are some outstanding tracks scattered throughout the album – some of those sound like the Sleeping With Sirens that post-hardcore fans all over the world know and love, while others take on the softer sound the band are currently experimenting with. Lead single “Kick Me” is by far one of the best tracks on the record; it has high energy all through the song, with a bridge designed to have fans screaming along in unison before the infectious chorus kicks in. “Go Go Go” keeps up the pace with a more pop feel and one of the catchiest choruses on the album before winding things down a little with “Gold”. This track is reminiscent of “If You Were A Movie…” with the acoustic guitars and slightly slower tempo – it’s a bit of a grower, but I enjoy the song more every time I listen to it. The same scenario occurs with “The Strays” – an uplifting, chilled-out track that takes a couple of plays before you really get into it.
As always, there are a couple of songs that are almost forgettable. Both “Left Alone” and “Heroine”, although not bad songs, lack the spark that some of the others have; there’s no catchy hooks, no ridiculously high harmonies that lead vocalist Kellin Quinn is famous for. They’re just… Nice. The same goes for “November” although it does have to be said that the piano arrangement is absolutely beautiful.
Then there are a couple more songs that are just short of the ‘awesome’ mark. “Fly” has most of the makings of an incredible track – it showcases Kellin’s insane vocal range (I’m being told by Wikipedia that the technical term is “tenor leggero”) and the verses are good, but the chorus just doesn’t have the same catchy riffs or lyrics that so many others have. “Save Me A Spark” just bobs along; it’s a good track, although I think it might be one where you have to listen to it a few times to appreciate it fully! There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not as prominent as the other songs.
The title track, well… I don’t really know what to say about the title track! The sound is a million miles from anything else I’ve ever heard Sleeping With Sirens perform. There’s strings, there’s a glockenspiel (I’m not knocking the glock, I played it for 2 years in music class at school!) and it just sounds like a different band. It’s not bad different, just… different. By the time you get to this song (the penultimate track) it’s quite apparent that any SWS fan who was expecting this album to be more of the same post-hardcore they’ve been used to was going to be a bit disappointed. That being said, there are definitely tracks which take you back to the rockier days. “Better Off Dead” has a sound that echoes second album “Let’s Cheers To This” with it’s fast tempo, loud guitar riffs and strong vocals from Kellin. The theme is continued into the next song “We Like It Loud” which any old-school SWS fan will absolutely love.
The album is rounded off with “Don’t Say Anything” which is perhaps the most appropriate song to finish the album, as it’s a song of two halves – although initially quite stripped-back, the chorus will definitely be stuck in your head afterwards.
Overall? I like this album. Some songs need a few plays before you can fully get into them, but all of them are worth a listen. The guys have done a good job at trying out new sounds whilst keeping the tried-and-tested formula that works with their existing fan base. My main criticism of the album is that the songs are a bit on the short side – there isn’t a song which exceed the 4-minute mark. But a bloody good record if you can open your mind to their newer sound.