“I’m 31 now and I wanted to make a record that sounded my age.” lead singer Kellin Quinn stated in an interview with Beats 1 about their fifth album, Gossip. As a music fan, there is great privilege in growing older with the band you love. A symbiotic relationship in aging when it comes to life and music. Certain types of lyrical themes don’t fit the way they used to or a certain sound doesn’t fit like that flannel shirt you used to wear when you were a kid. In order to grow, you have to let go the places you hold on to the most. Even a headlining spot on the 2016 iteration of Vans Warped Tour seems so long ago.
Sleeping With Sirens strives to begin again, a new label in tow (Warner Brothers Music) and a new outlook in what horizons are set forth towards the future. If you look through the band’s discography, it’s been a slow march to the uniformed sound of their newest album. Madness became a primer between the band’s post-hardcore past and it’s penchant for something more mainstream. Gossip puts SWS even farther away from it’s building block of 2010’s With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear. The title track has Quinn proclaiming against of echo of claps that, “I’ve got this new thing, I’ve got a new swing“. Gone are the screams that Quinn utilized in previous albums. His vocals serve as a melodic unifying puzzle piece for an album that is more melodic and less emphasis on the higher pitch in previous albums.
The first part of the album follows a similar script within the structures of songs. Gang vocals at like the center piece and a song like “Legends,” the first single from the album is a good litmus test of this. In songs like “Trouble” and “Cheers”, there’s the boom-clap rhythmic element where the guitars are toned down in order to highlight the innate catchiness of the chorus. Both songs fit in the narratives as a rallying cry for the “forgotten”, both acknowledging it and using it as a badge of honor. In sequencing, it’s almost that the songs meld together – where the band really empathizes their need for a more mainstream sound. There are peaks and valleys because it feels like some of the more poppy elements to the first half are heavy on being an anthem. “One May Army” with it’s placement on the album feels like the “The Strays” from Madness. It’s an acoustic, heart-felt commercial break from the newness of how songs like “Cheers” feel.
Gossip really comes together within the second half of the album where it seems more of a full band effort. “Closer” and “Hole In My Heart” show where the band can go as far as a more alternative rock sound. The album plays with a yo-yo of emotions where in can both be very uplifting, but have moments where it’s unsure of where to go. “The Chase” is the song that many older fans will be able to point to akin to the guitar rhythms from Jack Fowler and Nick Martin. There’s a moment in this particular song where Quinn is reciting the chorus and it seems like he’s going to break out into a scream, only to pull it back at the last minute. As the song embodies the spirit of the band, that little moment sums up that the band is taking pieces from what they learned on their musical journey, but not looking to backtrack.
One thing that can be appreciated is that Gossip is very present. It forges to be a snapshot of a band that wants to shed it’s post-hardcore past in order to encapsulate the moment of life of where they are now. Musically, there are parts that fall to be a little formulaic, but at the same time, there is room to grow in the big space that the band has created for itself.