‘Let’s Cheer’ to Sirens

Courtesy of Rise Records

Everyone’s heard of the sophomore slump. A band will release an album, get popular because of a few key songs, and then release a second album in hopes of riding on the success of their first. Sometimes, the second album is an utter failure and succeeds only in disappointing their original fan-base. Sometimes, however, a band will surprise everyone and create something that puts their first album to shame.

Sleeping With Sirens’ latest album, “Let’s Cheers to This” is a perfect example of a stellar follow-up album to their first, titled “With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear.” It’s rare to find an album in today’s jumbled mess of awful, over-produced sludge oozing out of your speakers over your local “Top 40” radio stations where every song is great, and you’re not spending all of your time skipping around the album finding the two out of 10 or more songs you actually like.

The album begins on a high note, with the driving guitars and drums of “Do It Now Remember It Later” pounding over your speakers (or headphones) and the immediately recognizable voice of frontman Kellin Quinn. On Sleeping With Sirens’ first album, Quinn combined both his unique and unmistakable singing with high-pitched shrieks that placed them firmly in the post-hardcore genre.

However, one will immediately recognize upon listening to this album that Sleeping With Sirens is clearly trying to make an effort to move away from the post-hardcore and all the stigma associated with it — that stigma being the stereotypical song structure of “breakdown-chorus-breakdown-chorus-breakdown” and the “screaming during breakdowns and singing during choruses” generality that would otherwise give the band the mock-genre “genericore.”

Luckily for the music world, Sleeping With Sirens has the presence of mind and musical creativity strong enough to make an album that not only flees from the stereotypical but also succeeds in kicking some major tail in the process.

That being said, Sleeping With Sirens doesn’t completely do away with their screaming elements. While they are very few and far between, this serves to make those moments even more powerful in the context of the album since it is toned down and more mature than their first. These heavy sections featuring screaming are all relatively short, with the exception of a token song titled “Four Corners and Two Sides.”

Following “Do It Now Remember It Later” are “If You Can’t Hang” and “Who Are You Now,” which are both absolute gems. “If You Can’t Hang” not only has one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in recent memory, but also extremely well-crafted lyrics that actually have meaning that will keep you coming back because of the sheer emotion that Quinn pours into his vocal work.

However, it’s not just Quinn’s vocals that shine through here. With two new guitarists, Jack Fowler (also in Florida-based Broadway) and Jesse Lawson, both the rhythm and lead guitar licks are equally as catchy as Quinn’s high-soaring choruses. Backing up Fowler and Lawson is drummer Gabe Barham and bassist Justin Hills, who provide a solid and driving backbone to all the songs on “Let’s Cheers to This.”

“Who Are You Now” is a perfect example of this solid backbone, with the verses of this song driven almost solely by the drums and bass guitar. It’s refreshing to hear this sort of song-to-song variation, as it creates an environment where you can actually tell the difference between each song on the album. No one likes “those” albums where each song blends together in one jumbled sonic mess that leaves you feeling utterly disappointed at its conclusion.

With each of the songs on “Let’s Cheers to This” having their own distinct feel, it makes it difficult to choose a favorite, and you’ll constantly find yourself bouncing between each of the 11 songs, with each one being just as good as the last.

Perhaps the most unique song on the album, “All My Heart,” is the token, heartfelt acoustic ballad that will no doubt be placed on many Valentine’s Day mixes in the future. In fact, I could even see the song being played at a wedding. Quinn’s lyrics are constructed in such a manner that it’ll be sure to capture the hearts of many listeners – heck, he’s got me hooked.

Even for those that have never heard of Sleeping With Sirens before or are unsure about buying this album because of the inclusion of even a little bit of screaming, don’t hesitate to buy this album. It’s good to come out of your comfort zone with music, and Sleeping With Sirens is the perfect place to start. This Michigan quintet will no doubt capture your heart and conquer your iTunes playlists for some time to come.

Rating: 5/5 Stars