Young Guns


Written by: TL on 14/03/2012 12:55:06

When British quintet Young Guns dropped their debut LP "All Our Kings Are Dead" it was clear that here was a band that not only wanted shamelessly to be a rock band of the biggest kind around, they also had the talent and dedication to get there sooner than later. Not only was "Kings" a treasure trove of catchy choruses, it also had a dark-tinted personality to make it stand out from other British upstarts, and more importantly, it had an absolutely delicious heavy end to its sound, which combined every catchy line with a bass-y punch to the gut, the kind of which forced any listener to re-consider writing the band off as your regular shallow stadium-rock wannabes.

Effectively, expectations were piled sky-high for the band's new album "Bones", which came out little over a month ago and which predictably sees the band try to capitalise on their momentum and up the ante, throwing all the muscle of their Live Forever label into recording the biggest record they possibly could. And this might prove to be the biggest risk they took, because the resulting sound is so big that it probably will not translate properly to any potential fans out there, who are content with buying or pirating their music in inferior formats, because even when listening to the album on CD, "Bones" has moments that sound a little too much like the band is playing in a gigantic, empty, echoing aircraft hangar.

In these moments, like for instance in the very opening of first song "I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die", that heavy end to the band's sound comes out a little blurrier and less powerful than what we were used to on "Kings" and that is probably the main thing to complain about listening to "Bones". The good news is that it is also just about the only thing to complain about, because if you've been a good boy/girl and actually bought the record (or found it in proper 320kbps MP3 or better) then you're in for a veritable parade of well-written, powerful anthems with almost no drops in quality.

"Dearly Departed", "Towers (On My Way)" and lead single "Learn My Lesson" for instance, are as solidly catchy anthems as could be expected, easily living up to corresponding hits like "Sons Of Apathy" and "Crystal Clear" from the previous album. Those all look like filler though, next to songs like the aforementioned album opener "I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die", follow-up singles "Brother In Arms" and "Bones" and power-ballad "You Are Not". "Bones" delivers easily the most chest-slamming, fist-pumping, throat-scraping shout-along anthem of recent memory, "You Are Not" is clearly the record's "Winter Kiss" sounding like the kind of tune to which flags are waved back and forth by massive festival audiences, and "I Was Born" and especially "Brother In Arms", my highlight of the album, are the kind of power-tracks that grips your heart with devilishly well-penned prechoruses and primes your entire body for sprinting headlong into whatever when the choruses hit you.

Along the way, Young Guns paint soundscapes in nuances that both reveal their origin and alignment in current British alternative rock - with veterans like Lostprophets and youngins like Blitz Kids coming to mind as likely references - and sees their sound stretch to lofty reaches of the likes of 30 Seconds To Mars, yet always with a dark tint akin to modern era AFI material. The sound is melodic and accessible, yet it is also highly energetic and powerful and it packs a heavy punch that most similar bands are afraid to include for fear of scaring off more casual fans. On top of it all, singer Gustav Wood croons, roars and serenades listeners with all the might of his greatly versatile vocals, still deserving comparisons to Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) in his scratched parts and to Dallas Green (City And Colour) when things quiet down.

When all is said and done and "Bones" has run its course and the dust has settled however, there are a few small critical observations worth making. One could be that the approach taken on it is basically the same as on "Kings" only scaled up slightly, and that there's little new under the sun for the band. This impression is stronger when considering that Young Guns continue to run a tight ship when it comes to songwriting; They ensure that every song on the record sounds like a potential hit, yet they also systematically root out any sound or progression that could be considered at all curvy or experimental, seemingly not yet willing to risk losing their listener's attention even for one second. It makes "Bones" just a little samey down the stretch, with closers "Interlude", "Headlights" and "Broadfields" often in danger of being skipped, because as good as the preceeding 9(!!!) songs are, you can still feel a bit full when you've been bombarded by all of them in a row.

That however, is all nitpicking, as I doubt anyone can seriously listen to "Bones" and not recognise it as a record that is not at the very least solid as concrete, and I would be very, very surprised if it does not take Young Guns the planned distance towards where they want to go as a band.


Download: Brother In Arms; I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die, You Are Not, Bones
For The Fans Of: 30 Seconds To Mars, post-"Sing The Sorrow"-era AFI, Lostprophets, Blitz Kids, We Are The Ocean, Fightstar

Release Date 06.02.2012
Live Forever Records

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