After the release of their debut album, With Ears To See and Eyes To Hear, Sleeping With Sirens said that the album was first intended to be an EP, but was expanded into a full length at the request of their label. Though a bit short, it clearly defined the band’s sound with an emphasis on stellar vocals and guitar. It was a great release, and showed a great deal of promise. With Let’s Cheers To This, the band was able to take their time to write a complete album, and the result is somewhat different from what might have been expected. With a greater emphasis on Kellin Quinn’s singing and guitarist Jesse Lawson taking over some screaming duties, there’s a bit of a new vocal dynamic at hand, which the greater emphasis on the band’s pop sensibilities tends to highlight. If you were hoping for a repeat of the debut, you’re going to be disappointed. However, there’s still a fair amount to enjoy about this album, as it finds the band exploring some new areas while not venturing too far away from their original sound.
Lead single “Do It Now, Remember It Later” opens the album, which was a great choice. Upbeat with a catchy chorus and some of the best instrumental parts on the album, it finds Quinn singing lyrics that suggest the album will find the band doing exactly what they want, almost as if in reference to how the debut was somewhat rushed. The drum and guitar parts on this song are definite highlights, and we get to hear Lawson’s screams, which are somewhat drier than Quinn’s, for the first time as a lead-in to the chorus and throughout the bridge. Overall, this is one of the best tracks on Let’s Cheers To This.
“If You Can’t Hang” opens with acoustic guitar and a driving drum beat before a riff comes in on electric guitar to propel the song toward something that will find fans dancing when the band performs this live. As the riff dies to ambient strums and drums, Quinn comes in with story-like lyrics that offer a dynamic that is rather different from “Do It Now, Remember It Later.” By this time, it’s clear that Quinn’s voice is as strong as ever, and the band gains a lot from his abilities to write great melodies. The chorus to this track is another one that will easily stay in your head, and the bridge shows the power that Quinn can convey with his voice. However, this track features my least favorite part of the record, when Lawson screams “imagine that!” It comes across as rather cheesy and I dread hearing it, as it nearly ruins an otherwise great song. Luckily, the chorus returns shortly afterward to salvage the track and help listeners forget about that misstep.
More diversity is found in “Who Are You Now?,” which is somewhat similar to “Let Love Bleed Red” from their debut, and is a bit of a reprieve from the speed of the first two tracks. However, it becomes a bit repetitive and somewhat forgettable. “Four Corners And Two Sides” sounds like something that would have been right at home on the band’s debut, with the most screaming of any song to this point on the album. This is another of the strongest tracks from this release. “A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son” is also a bit forgettable, despite a few points where Quinn’s vocals shine. The lyrics and instrumentation just aren’t strong enough to put this track at the same level of some of the band’s previous work or even many of the songs on this release.
Perhaps part of the reason “A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son” is so forgettable is how great of a track “Fire” is. Though it offers a different texture from any of the band’s other songs, it does not feel out of place in any way, as they are able to pull it off perfectly. The chorus of this song is probably my favorite of the entire album, as the comparison between love and fire manages to come across very effectively. The pure emotion in Quinn’s voice on this track leaves me wanting more, and it’s always a bit disappointing when the song fades away to the weak intro to “Tally It Up, Settle The Score.” Though the verses aren’t bad, the song isn’t quite as successful as others on the album and is just mediocre.
“Your Nickle Ain’t Worth My Dime” also finds the band exploring some new territory, this time in a style that reminds me of The Cab‘s more dance-oriented songs. Quinn tests out his falsetto on the verses in this track, which, on the whole, is an interesting change from the band’s normal sound, but has an awkward ending that feels as if they didn’t know where to go. “Postcards and Polaroids” is another track that falls to the wayside as the result of lyrics and instrumental parts that are uninspired on the whole. “All My Heart” (in-studio live video here) is a simple acoustic-based track that allows Quinn’s voice to captivate listeners over some nice-sounding chords before breaking into a full-band portion that continues the same idea in a bigger fashion. This song is another highlight of the album. Though somewhat repetitive, the title track does a decent job of giving the album a sense of completion. My only gripe about it is the way the sound cuts out just before the three minute mark, which I found to be unnecessary. That said, it’s nice that the album doesn’t end on another instrumental track like their debut did.
All in all, Let’s Cheers To This is good, but not quite as great as the band’s previous release. While it’s definitely worth a spin, certain missteps keep it from reaching the full potential that their debut hinted at. However, this isn’t a bad release. I’ve listened to it approximately a dozen times expecting it to lose some of the shine that a new album has the first few times you hear it, but it hasn’t yet happened. While I don’t think this is going to be a release that will stand up particularly well over time, it also hasn’t aged quickly. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fan of the band, but I think that this release is a stepping stone towards a third album that will truly blow me away, one that combines heartfelt lyrics, incredible vocals, and the musical creativity that Sleeping With Sirens is fully capable of. All of the pieces are there, but they just need to put them together a little differently.