‘You Are We’ bares two different meanings for While She Sleeps. Their successful PledgeMusic campaign saw fans congregate to fund the Sheffield masters’ third album, helping them reach 100% in a matter of weeks. As a band who have always stressed the importance of the connection between artist and listener, this support showed the fans’ dedication is the beating heart of WSS.
It also alludes to the socially-conscious viewpoint WSS have voiced throughout their career, from 2010’s debut EP ‘The North Stands for Nothing’ through to 2015’s ‘Brainwashed’. Now, in a post-Brexit, post-Trump society, where fear and distrust dominates public opinion, ‘You Are We’ is a global rallying call for unity.
WSS make no bones about their anti-establishment sentiment. “It’s only hate you preach and when we call for peace, you call it anarchy”, Taylor yells on the title track, recalling scornful attitudes elites have displayed towards worldwide protest, while ‘Silence Speaks’ contains an allegory to Brexit, stating a misled public proved that leading figures “can pollute our heads with the news” and “manipulate the masses again”.
The grit which has fuelled their past work makes the delivery of these messages more scathing, yet ‘You Are We’ doesn’t just burn with anger. Instead, the development in anthems like ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Empire of Silence’, demonstrate a grandeur that can’t be contained in club venues for much longer. Additional vocal work from guitarists Mat Welsh and Sean Long ensures there are plenty of sing-along sections which, in turn, provides a canvas for Taylor’s razor sharp screams to bounce off of, creating greater impact upon delivery.
Anyone who has followed While She Sleeps since ‘TNSFN’ will recognise ‘You Are We’ to be the next step in the band’s progression, but it’s also an album that a lot of newcomers will get plenty out of as well. Combining punk structures with an intensity that could only come from a hardcore background is the hallmark of WSS songwriting, but they’ve upped their game massively here. And in a time of global distress, it’s truly great to see a band with community spirit reach out with a message of unity on one of the essential albums of 2017.
‘You Are We’ by While She Sleeps is released on 21st April on Sleeps Brothers.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)