'So What?' - While She Sleeps / Turned Up Louder
Ever since Sheffield’s While She Sleeps started dropping hints that new music was on the way, the
hype has been REAL. Self-released ‘You Are We’ was so unbelievable, though, that there was a
common thought of ‘How on Earth can they follow this up?’. We found out with the release of the
singles that they were bringing something new to fans. It was clear that they were keeping their
distinctive sound and politically charged lyrics but heavily experimenting with digital elements and
new vocal styles. We see more of this in the album, with samples, synths, and even a short rap
section. Lyrics are a focal point – maybe due to the changing political climate – and so the band use
some interesting techniques in places to emphasise the more important ones. There’s a lot going on
in this chaotic piece, so let’s go track by track.
‘ANTI-SOCIAL’ is the perfect opener for ‘So What?’; it’s energetic, it’s feisty, and most of us are
familiar with it because it was the first single and a massive topic of debate upon its release. After
some chaotic and eerie samples of outcry in te streets (think letlive.), we’re hit with a promising,
fast-paced introductory riff before being thrust into a powerfully aggressive track. Vocals range from
whispers, to frontman Lawrence (Loz) Taylor’s screams, spoken sections and, of course, guitarist
Mat Welsh’s cleans over almost choral gang vocals – a Sleeps staple. These alternate with the lyrics,
the most memorable of which are the lines ‘I’m not anti-social / I’m anti-bullshit’. This track will
really bring out your rebellious side.
Lyrically simpler, ‘I’VE SEEN IT ALL’ is a lot heavier on the digital stuff. Synth sounds run throughout
and work well layered with some simple yet hard-hitting breakdowns and more gang vocals. The
chorus’ vocal melody and lyrics are catchy, very intelligible and memorable, which is sure to go down
Opening simply with instruments and vocals, ‘INSPIRE’ initially seems like it could be an average
song, but before long, Bring Me The Horizon reminiscent synths take the spotlight. It works really
well at some points, but the song gets a little too jumbled when rap-like vocals kick in before a
breakdown, and there are so many samples of weapon noises which may have been better as one-
offs. There is, however, an emotional bridge section at a half time pace which redeems the song.
Another strange experimental sample appears on the title track, ‘SO WHAT?’. The beginning has
hard rock and punk elements to the instrumentation, then there’s a build-up of tension and a
woman says, ‘You only wrote this for the money, didn’t you?’, before a soft breakdown. It’s
different, so of course it will be polarising, but the experimentation is not overdone elsewhere in the
song, so it should be enjoyable regardless.
‘THE GUILTY PARTY’, another single, is not as dissimilar as other songs from previous record ‘You Are
We’. There is a fluctuation in mood as tension builds and releases at several points. Layered vocals
over a riff that could not possibly be mistaken for that of any other band dominate the end of the
track, showcasing the band’s distinctive sound at its finest.
Then comes many fans’ favourite single, ‘HAUNT ME’. With a punk rock edge, a simple breakdown
and a catchy chorus, this seems like a bridge between their older and newer sounds. Verses by this
point are getting slightly repetitive, but this song does give us a break from the wordiness we’ve had
so far. It’s an easy and enjoyable listen.
The final single is the track most reminiscent of old Sleeps, ‘ELEPHANT’. High-energy and simply
structured, it largely brings the attention back to Taylor and Long’s vocals and the instrumentation.
They give us, of course, some impressive, energetic riffs, as well as some understated breakdown
parts during the chorus which are a pleasant surprise upon first listen and add something older yet
exciting to the whole album experience.
‘SET YOU FREE’ then takes this further, with strong unclean vocals and one of the heaviest
breakdowns on the record. It’s not just their signature riffs, breakdowns, screams and choral backing
vocals that catch the attention of existing fans of the band, though. Despite drummer Adam Savage’s
repetitive strain injury to his elbow during the recording process, bold drum fills demand to be heard
throughout this track, just one testament to the effort that goes into While She Sleeps’ music.
More fresh sounds come in the form of the verses in the next track, ‘GOOD GRIEF’. Digital sounds
and acoustic elements feel relaxing and groovy, gradually building into melodic choruses and fast
riffs. Following some distorted spoken word ending with ‘You blink when you lie’ the breakdown
feels as though it would incite some light-hearted pits live, or at least some nodding along when you
hear the energy on record.
Now, here comes the divisive track that was the subject of so many conversations in the scene upon
the album’s release: ‘BACK OF MY MIND’. At first, it’s heavy in an unmistakable Sleeps style,
mellowing out and building up a few times – and then we’re hit with rapping. It may take some a few
listens to get used to, but of all of the experimentation on this album, this part is up there with the
best, and the breakdown which ensues is surely the heaviest part of the album.
At the close of our listening experience is the longest and, in many fans’ opinions, best song. ‘GATES
OF PARADISE’ is as grand as its title appears. Unlike some of the previous songs, its many layers
transition well through the whole track and never clash, including some Bring Me The Horizon-esque
gang vocal chants which sound like the voices of children.
Often likened to ‘amo’, this release certainly shows that While She Sleeps are taking note of musical
trends, without, of course, giving up their own style. Elements of old albums, particularly the more
punk ‘Brainwashed’, appear here, and there’s no sign of their lyrics becoming any tamer. Some
transitions are slightly jarring, and structures are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, however this album
is a definite grower, with enough brilliant moments for the band to pull this off live for a long time.
'So What?' is out now as a self-release.
Check out the lyric video for the band's latest single, 'ELEPHANT', below:
While She Sleeps have a whole host of tour dates lined up across the US, as well as a summer of festival appearances - dates can be found below:
N. AMERICA TOUR SUPPORTING ARCHITECTS + FESTIVAL DATES: Fri 26 Apr Anaheim, CA House of Blues Sat 27 Apr Phoenix, AZ Van Buren Mon 29 Apr Denver, CO Ogden Theatre Wed 01 May Dallas, TX House of Blues Thu 02 May Austin, TX Emo’s Fri 03 May Houston, TX House of Blues Sat 04 May New Orleans, LA House of Blues Sun 05 May USA Welcome To Rockville Tue 07 May Atlanta, GA Buckhead Theatre Thu 09 May Nashville, TN Cannery Ballroom Fri 10 May St. Louis, MO Pop’s Sun 12 May USA Epicenter Tue 14 May Washington, DC 930 Club Wed 15 May Philadelphia, PA Fillmore Thu 16 May New York, NY Brooklyn Steel 17-19 May USA Sonic Temple Art & Music Festival Mon 20 May Worcester, MA Palladium Tue 21 May Montreal, QC Mtelus Thu 23 May Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall Fri 24 May Detroit, MI The Majestic Sat 25 May Chicago, IL Concord
FURTHER FESTIVAL DATES: Fri 31 May UK All Points East 07-09 Jun Germany Rock Am Ring / Rock Im Park 13-15 Jun Switzerland Greenfield Festival Thu 20 Jun Sweden Pustervik Sat 22 Jun Denmark Copenhell Thu 27 Jun Norway Tons Of Rock 28-30 Jun Germany Full Force Festival Sat 29 Jun Germany Vainstream Festival 03-06 Jul Spain Resurrection Fest Thu 11 Jul UK 2000 Trees Festival 12-14 Jul Czech Republic Mighty Sounds Sat 20 Jul Romania Electric Castle 21-27 Jul Slovenia Metaldays 22-24 Aug Germany Reload Festival