Sleeping with Sirens 'Gossip' Album Review
Don’t Believe the Gossip
By Rachel DeBoe
On September 22, 2017, Sleeping With Sirens released their long awaited fifth studio album, “Gossip.” Newly signed to Warner Bros., fans speculated that this change in record labels would affect the sound of the music.
While the album is definitely different from the post hardcore sound that SWS is known for, the band claims that the label shift had nothing to do with the change. In fact, Sleeping With Sirens’ lyricist and vocalist Kellin Quinn calls this soulful record the “direction that’s always been there for me.”
The album opens with the title track, “Gossip.” The track is a perfect intro to the album with Quinn crooning about the “new sound” that is coming. The song almost feels genreless in the best way. Critics would be quick to call it pop, but that simply isn’t so. The track is light but still alt-rock in its sound and feel.
Guitarists Jack Fowler and Nick Martin float through the song with an airy albeit strong presence, making the song distinctly SWS while still being fresh.
Next is “Empire to Ashes,” one of the many singles released before the album. The track is much darker in sound and theme than the one that precedes it.
Nearly reminiscent of the type of song to be found on Sleeping With Sirens’ 2015 release “Madness,” this track is one of breaking free from the chains that bound. It’s strong without being overbearing and very well balanced.
Following is “Legends,” the lead single from the album. Upon its release, “Legends” suffered mixed reviews. The song is undeniably corny with lyrics like, “We can be wild/We can be free/We can be anything in life we want to be.” In addition, it’s a repetitive pop song. The word ‘remember’ is sung 17 times.
While all these facts stack up against the track, it is hard to deny its catchiness. This song was chosen as Team USA’s Olympic theme. Although it is weak lyrically and musically, the recipe succeeded in being an earworm with enough faux motivation to inspire the American team.
The next track is titled “Trouble.” It was also featured as a single. On first listen, the track feels a bit weak and misplaced on the album. But after an examination of the lyrics and a good listen, this song shines.
Musically, it is beautiful. Quinn’s vocals leak with soul. Bassist Justin Hills sounds amazing as he leads the verses with his instrument. Drummer Gabe Barham keeps the beat steady, simple and easy to follow while still managing to be distinctly impressive.
In addition, the lyrics of “Trouble” are much darker than the light-hearted music would lead a listener to believe.
“I’m in too deep/I sold my soul/I’m out of reach and I can’t let go/I’m in trouble/ I made my way/A dead end road/I can’t turn back so I walk alone/I’m in trouble,” Quinn sang.
The fifth track on the record is “One Man Army,” a semi-acoustic and unmistakably powerful ballad. The song takes the shape as an anthem to the independent and a gospel for the strong willed. This is Quinn’s personal favorite from the record and it is easy to see why.
Track six is “Cheers,” another single from “Gossip.” Hills’ bassline shines through on this dark renegade of a song. An interesting aspect of it is that while maintaining a rock sound, “Cheers” adds in obvious elements of electronic samples in the chorus. This was a well executed track for SWS.
“Closer” is the next song. Somehow, it feels deeply nostalgic. Listening to this track brings back memories that one never even had. Maybe they belonged to someone else? No matter what the strange phenomena is, it is strong and beautiful. “Closer” feels like a song that’s been heard a million times before while feeling new and special at the same time.
“Hole in My Heart” comes next. The music and the lyrics match up perfectly. While the lyrics are mostly negative, the gleam of hope and light spark a fire that ignites and becomes Fowler’s piercing guitar solo in the bridge.
“I Need to Know” follows “Hole in My Heart’ and immediately lifts the weight off the listener’s chest with its light sound. Although it sounds more buoyant, its lyrics are tinged with the pain of lost love. While it is a theme that has mostly been played out, SWS somehow pull it off with grace and elegance.
Fuzzy guitar tablature breaks through at the introduction of “The Chase,” ripping the audience from their longing, “I Need to Know” induced misery. “The Chase” brings a slightly gritty while still alt-pop perspective on the stubbornness to never give up. A strong track, “The Chase” was a successful attempt at inspiring others.
“Gossip” ends with “War,” a soft track that wraps the album together quite loosely. It doesn’t feel like a resolution as much as it does a light suggestion to action. In essence, it’s depressing. It urges the listener to fight and to treasure their life as if it were “a mother’s love in a war that can’t be won.”
This isn’t to say that “War” is a bad song by any means, however, it may have been better if it had been placed higher on the tracklist. However, there is the chance that “War” embodies the message that the album was attempting to relay. No matter how hard the fight is fought, there comes a time where it is obvious that the war cannot be won.
When all is said and done, “Gossip” was a success. Though a couple of missteps made the album a target for critics, there is no real cause for complaint. And while “Gossip” may not be the best album Sleeping With Sirens have put out, it follows the path of their 2015 release and continues the band on a road toward mainstream stardom.
‘Don’t believe the gossip’ surrounding this album. As a major label debut and a release that will be touring material, “Gossip” served it’s purpose and it served it well.