Album Review: Young Guns, Ones and Zeros

From absent fathers, a discontent with the places that have remained the same since childhood, as well as having much woe to channel into a creative form, all resulted in Young Guns’ debut album; the effortless, flowing and poetically weighted All Our Kings Are Dead. After that came Bones; slightly mellower but far bigger, it laid to waste the age old ‘difficult second album’ fallacy and landed its makers on festival main stages throughout the UK as well as in other parts of the world.

So now to their third offering- again a different story entirely. Ones and Zeros feels like they’ve got the weight of the world out of their collective system and into their songs and now they’re just ready to have a good time.

Perhaps the biggest track on the entire album is Rising Up. In the beginning it feels mystical- almost the calm before the storm, before the power rolls in and while the song is almost prodigious, under all the layers lies a serene, electronic basis upon which the whole song exists and thrives. It’s a strong move, putting this track at the beginning; it establishes exactly what their intentions are and is straight to the point.

Second track, I Want Out has been doing the rounds since its live debut during their arena shows with Bullet For My Valentine, towards the latter end of 2013. This song feels like Bones 2.0- it carries the same soaring feeling, only this time it comes with slightly heavier riffs and is essentially, from the first listen, just a straight up accessible rock anthem. Infinity in the beginning sounds like this album’s answer to Bones’ Everything Ends; the smooth elements in Gustav Wood’s voice throughout this track juxtapose the two that have come before it and it’s a welcome change of pace.

The morbidly titled Memento Mori (translated, it means ‘remember you will die’) doesn’t reflect its title in musical content; the optimistic, chugging guitars aid in making this a track that in time, could possibly be one of Young Guns’ biggest. Meanwhile, latest single Daylight has a similar kind of electronic feel to Rising Up, but carries such an overwhelmingly positive message, underpinned by shreds of pulsing guitar that give it the edge it needs for it to not quite enter the realms of commerciality.

Speaking In Tongues still encapsulates the enormity of the new Young Guns, but while simultaneously reminiscing the more poetic side of their debut. Let’s face it, how often do you hear the word ‘parable’ in a rock song?! Gravity is Wood’s voice at its most delicate on this album, whilst Die On Time explores deeper and darker tones and it feels like it carries a little more weight than the rest of the tracks.

Final and title track Ones and Zeros maintains the electro-heavy feel and it’s an oscillating end that moves rapidly one moment before neatly dropping into stripped down vocals the next, and laden with electronic trickery the moment after that.

These are definitely interesting times for Young Guns. An album should give just a small snapshot into the time it was written for the band, and Ones and Zeros is an excellent example of this. Thinking this way, this feels like a band who are just happy to be making music and to be where they are in the world; the weight is off their shoulders and into the previous two albums- but they still want to prove they are worthy of being UK rock heavyweights.

Ones and Zeros is out Monday, June 8th through Virgin EMI!

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