There comes a time in the career of countless artists when they decide it’s time to go mainstream in a maybe disappointing though understandable move to keep their music relevant. To be fair, “sellout” shouldn’t be taken strictly as a negative—think Taylor Swift’s 1989 or Maroon 5’s Overexposed—but it’s always sad to see artists cast away their roots in exchange for empty pop hits. Gossip is Sleeping With Siren’s fifth studio album, and this is their sellout album.
Sleeping With Sirens found popularity in the post-hardcore genre in 2010 with “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” off their debut album With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear. Kellin Quinn, their lead singer, is well known in the genre for his vocal range. Their third studio album, Feel, debuted at No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 chart in 2013 and was the highest charting post-hardcore album of its time.
They’ve since fallen pretty far from the post-hardcore tree, with not a single screamo moment in earshot of this album. Gossip features a much lighter, more tender sound than their previous album. This is fairly characteristic of married man syndrome in the pop-punk genre, as seen in
Good Charlotte’s Youth Authority, in which they went from singing songs like “The World is Black” to “Life Can’t Get Much Better” following both Madden brothers’ weddings.
The first single of the album, “Legends” was released earlier this year in July and was announced as the official song of the USA team for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. If you’ve heard “Immortals” by Fall Out Boy, then it’ll be hard to shake the similarities between the two. While the overall theme of an invincibility anthem is nothing new, the chorus, “We could be legends,” and the musical composition are strikingly similar, right down to Sleeping With Sirens’ dabbling in synthesizers. While absolutely nothing novel, it’s a song that could easily make its ways to the airwaves, with a catchy beat and uplifting message.
“Cheers” is the obligatory “it’s okay we’re different” anthem of the album. While Sleeping With Sirens experiments with a grittier, rock and roll sound with a smattering of electro, the composition of the song is so utterly dull, with the most basic of basslines and lackluster drum beats. Though Quinn sings out, “We march to a beat of a different drum,” he clearly isn’t talking about any of the songs on this album.
The one song on the album that showcases Quinn’s vocal range in all of its glory is “War.” Featuring the perfect masking of cynical lyrics with airy piano chords, it sounds almost hymnal. The title track, “Gossip,” is an upbeat funk twist with falsetto for days, and songs like “I Need to Know” and “Closer” have melancholy crooning mixed with enough of a pop pizzazz that they could’ve easily fit into One Direction’s Four.
Though the simplicity of this album is frustrating, ultimately it adds to the catchiness of the songs. Objectively, it’s an album that lacks any sense of intricacy, recycling overused beats from the radio, but maybe that’s exactly why it’s still reasonably enjoyable. It’s just the overall concept of the album that seems to be lacking, feeling a lot like the result of stripping Sleeping with Sirens of all its complexity. Gossip is the nothing but the bare bones, the skeleton of Sleeping with Sirens, missing the heart of soul of who they used to be. It’s a big deviation from their old music, but the lighthearted pop element isn’t terribly unwelcome. If viewed in relation to their previous works, this album is a disappointment. Viewed alone, Gossip is a fun pop hit.
Voice’s Choices: “Closer,” “War,” and “I Need to Know”