After a three year break between their second and third albums- the latter of which came out last year- Young Guns have not messed around this time. Just fifteen months after their last album Ones and Zeroes, the High Wycombe (recently diminished) four-piece are back again with Echoes, their fourth full length offering. Whilst each album thus far marks significant progression for the band, this one in particular feels like an especially poignant point in time regarding the enormity of the changes they’ve faced over the past year. While things may have come to a head in the personal lives of some band members, it’s the departure of drummer Ben Joliffe that has directly affected the band as a whole, and changed up the way they’ve done things ever since the early years.
Every Young Guns album seems to have one single that shines brighter than the rest; on Bones it was the title track and I Want Out waved the flag for Ones and Zeroes. Opener Bulletproof is that track on Echoes, with its stadium sized chorus underlined by serrated riffs and a smattering of vocal distortion. Title track Echoes has a definite Rise Against feel to it, and brings their heavier side to prominence, something that was not heard in abundance on the last record- in fact, if it weren’t for the far more technologically developed side of things, this song could almost fit seamlessly right onto their All Our Kings Are Dead album.
Careful What You Wish For celebrates the more mature sound the band have naturally grown into; it exhibits so much swag through its scuzzy verses, while the chorus is just pulled back from the edge of irresistibly pop-y by the driving, groove-laden guitars. Mad World and its unequivocal Muse vibe is the go-to track for the aforementioned stadium rock. Sounding like it visits every avenue the band have visited thus far in their career, it’s the song that best showcases a culmination of everything they’ve ever been. It’s fitting then, that title and lyrics seem to encapsulate the craziness and magnitude of everything they’ve been through.
A faltering moment in the upward trajectory of this album comes in the form of Buried; while it’s a perfectly good rock song that sounds just like Young Guns, it feels lacking in identity and the YG stamp that ordinarily the band naturally embrace so well. On the other hand, Paradise begins as a stripped back piano number, so full of raw emotion that there’s no room for criticism amongst feelings poured out so honestly. It’s when the music kicks in behind the standalone vocals that the feeling alters from being emotionally driven, to musically powerful instead, which could shift between being positive or a negative depending on the listener’s current mood.
On their first album sans Ben Joliffe, it seems like Young Guns have drawn on everything they’ve tried out in the past, rather than trying something completely new as they have previously. It’s a fitting way to end their era as a five piece; while the first half of the album is considerably stronger than the latter half, as a whole the band have accomplished somewhat of a journey, in which they lost a member of their ranks and came out sounding overall, bigger than ever. Like it or not, it really is only a matter of time before Young Guns are headlining arenas for themselves.
Echoes is out Friday September 16th via Wind-Up Records