Having performed alongside big names in festivals and achieved chart success not only in their home country, the UK, but also in the US, alt rockers Young Guns are a band that still appear to be on the way up with the release of their third record Ones And Zeros. Being a few years since their last release, and also their first album under Virgin EMI, you would expect that things will have changed somewhat. The core of their sound is very much the same, but there are noticeable differences overall.
Young Guns have established themselves in the heavy alt rock vein through their previous work, and the first track on Ones and Zeros, Rising Up, stays true to this. But the album as a whole gives off a different vibe, one that’s influenced by more pop, even dance sounds. Rather than a change in songwriting style, or even instrumentation, I think it’s mainly more of a production quality thing that has contributed to this change. There are definitely common elements among all tracks that sound great when you listen to the songs in isolation, but as a whole can get to be a bit tiresome. The songs are all really strong in themselves, but hearing reverb drenched guitar lines and vocal “woahs” track after track makes me think they are over doing it just a bit.
Formulaic elements in production aside, the music that the guys from London are putting forward here is thoughtfully constructed and comes across as personal. Infinity, which is more pop than rock, gives us lyrics that sets the theme for most of the album: “I’ve never felt so high/It’s never been this right/And it’s all about you and me/ From tonight to infinity”. There are more subdued moments in Lullaby and Die On Time: you know things are taken down a notch when finger clicking is in the foreground of the song. Gravity (Obituary) also starts off as a more delicate tune, but the guitar hook and impressively strong and high vocal “Yeah” toward the end of the song has you looking at the person (or in my case, dog) next to you, raising your eyebrows and saying “Yeah!”
Other strengths are the band’s knack for nailing a big chorus (I Want Out, and pretty much every other track), reminders of their more grounded rock sounds in Momento Mori and Colourblind (Win Or Lose), and heavy bass in the album’s second single Speaking In Tongues. The album wraps up with the title track, which leaves us with a bit of the old and the new. The guitar sounds more like a synth than a guitar and makes the overall feel of a dance track, but the rhythm is definitive and more in line with heavy rock. For me, this album didn’t push too many boundaries but it was enjoyable nonetheless, and I bet Young Guns would put on one hell of a show outside the studio.