We The Kings "Six" Review

2007 was a great time for bands, especially in the pop rock and pop punk scenes. Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High debuted at number one, Avril Lavine’s hit “Girlfriend” dominated the airwaves (and our Youtube streams), and the then up and coming group Paramore shook the music industry with their mega-hit “Misery Business.” Because of the success of these and many more artists of the genre, Warped Tour was a great breeding ground for the potential next big thing. One of those bands to really gain attention was We The Kings, with their hit “Check Yes Juliet”. The song helped the group not only chart on Billboard but become a staple of Warped Tour.


Now eleven years later, the music industry is in a much different state. Warped Tour has announced 2018 will be the final year for its cross-country run, and hip-hop has overtaken rock as the biggest genre in America. All of the aforementioned artists adapted their sounds to work for modern audiences. After both lineup and stylistic changes, We The Kings maintained popularity within the Warped Tour community. The group is now crowdfunded, with fans funding their albums since 2013’s Somewhere, Somehow. Their newest effort Six is not only their sixth studio album but also pays tribute to the honorary sixth member of We The Kings: the fans.


With Six, we see We The Kings modernizing their sound with synths and production elements, yet still keeping that pop-rock energy that helped propel them to the mainstreams. The group sounds familiar yet refreshed, bringing back some of the intensity and raw rock power that wasn’t quite as there with their 2015 release Strange Love. But does the refreshed sound offer something for fans both old and new?


The songs that work best on Six are the ones that feel like frontman Travis Clark is really demanding the listener's attention. We The Kings is definitely a very melodic band, with Clark really having a knack for ear-wormy and memorable melodies. On most tracks, the instrumentals feel uplifting and peppy. The group definitely boasts a pop-rock sound but also pulls influence from many modern sounds to create something that not every band is able to pull off. Many songs feel nostalgic to the band’s roots. Others see the band going in entirely new directions, yet finding interesting ways to maintain aspects of their past.


“The Ocean and The Sun” definitely is one of the album’s high notes. Although it is structured like a modern dance radio song, the live instrumentation helps to give the song an added sense of life and fullness. Bassist Charles Trippy helps give the song a bouncy feeling, and the bass presence really drives home the songs’ chorus. Layered guitars and keys are also highlighted in the song, which will definitely be great for sunny summer drives.


“Even if it Kills Me” is possibly the most classic We The Kings sounding track. Guitars are cranked up and a bit more present than they are on many of the album's songs. Drummer Danny Duncan has a particularly great performance on this song, playing with lots of energy and presenting some unique and fresh fills. The song also features one of Travis Clark’s best choruses on the album. This chorus is catchy and anthemic, sure to get stuck in listeners heads immediately.


“Alive” is almost reminiscent of a modern Imagine Dragons song, only more rock and a bit less produced. Here, we see Travis Clark. Clark really allows himself to show his versatility here, going from screams to his signature pop-rock melodies, to even hip-hop like flows in his verses. It is actually surprising how well this song works for We The Kings, as it is much different than the poppier and catchier songs the rest of the album features. Yet, the track still finds a way to feel like it belongs on this album because of Clark’s vocal delivery. This track is a definite head-nodding jam that is sure to be a great live jam.


Although the change in direction does help to modernize the songs on Six, it does come at the cost of dynamics. Choruses often feel smaller than expected, in part because the vocals are combating for space next to many layers of synths. The lead single “On My Love” melodically has many great ideas, yet the instrumental isn’t quite as dynamic as some of the album’s other tracks. “Mama Knows Best” never quite takes off as much as it could, and feels a bit like a missed opportunity. The song doesn’t quite feel it’s runtime and feels like some ideas should be expanded on. Some of the tracks towards the middle suffer from this feeling of knowing they could be bigger songs. Luckily enough, the overall songwriting of the album is solid. Even the less enjoyable and less gripping songs offer some interesting ideas that make the songs really hard to skip over.


When listening to many of the tracks on Six, it is immediately apparent why We The Kings has managed to continue going for over a decade. We see the band taking steps forward to appeal to new audiences, yet still featuring tracks that allow the guitars to be turned up an extra notch. Even the tracks that aren’t as unique and compelling have aspects to them that make them worth a listen. We The Kings is still catchy, still anthemic, and most importantly, still very fun.


Favorite Tracks: “Even if it Kills Me, “Alive”, “Planes, Trains, & Cars”

By: Matty Jiles