Monday, 20 February 2012

Young Guns - Bones

Sometimes music has that profound ability to transport you to another time or place. 'Bones' is one such album, transporting me to my "angry young man" teenage years (as my parents call them) spent listening to Linkin Park, Blink 182, Lost Prophets et al. This is both a blessing and a curse - it plays on the nostalgia of listeners (of a certain age at least), but also proves the band aren't really doing anything novel.

What they are, though, is a tight, solid rock band. Recent single Learn My Lesson showcased this, with its catchy chorus and driving guitars. This continues with title track Bones - you can literally hear hoards of screaming teenagers moshing and chanting its anthemic chorus. As a whole though, the band have mellowed since recording their self-titled debut in 2008. Arguably, they are at their best on the standout ballad You Are Not, with frontman Gustav Wood excelling with his impressive vocal range, soaring passionately into the upper registers. In fact, hearing a rock album with a talented vocalist who doesn't resort to screaming is a fresh change. Album closer Broadfields is another welcome ballad, with a gentler acoustic feel. The band are equally at home thrashing out tracks like Dearly Departed, Towers (On My Way) and Brothers In Arms. Yet for all the densely distorted and layered guitars, melody is at the heart of their sound - both instrumental and vocal. It ensures a pop sensibility amongst the angst. Shorter tracks, especially Interlude, provide further experimentation by incorporating synths and electronic drums for a heavier mix, perhaps hinting at the direction of the band's future work.

It's with the lyrics that Young Guns fall down slightly. Death seems to be a prominent theme, such as in the ironically titled opening track Everything Ends: "I had a conversation with a dying man, he said 'Son, make sure you live while you still can'"; or a line from the equally morbidly titled I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die: "Every day is a chance to change the story, don't run away, take a shot, give it everything you've got". Learn My Lesson was an obvious choice for the lead single with its core message "I will live and learn my lesson here tonight", by extension, being the moral of the album. It's a cliché, but it's befitting of the band's impassioned musical style. Then again, lyrics have hardly been a strong point for emo bands, overwrought emotion being a staple of the genre.

And that is the dichotomy of 'Bones'. It fits neatly into the genre of emo pop-rock and its influences are clear, like the best bits of various other bands spliced together. It may not be the most original music, but it's comforting for the teenager inside to have a warm, angsty hug - everything will be ok.


Gizzle's Choice:
* You Are Not
* Broadfields

Listen: 'Bones' is available now.

Watch: 'Young Guns' are currently touring Europe.