03 February 2012
by David Keevill
Us writing types at Thrash Hits don’t always agree on musical tastes, and Young Guns are one of those bands that polarize opinion in the TH camp. Whereas I thought the 2010 debut release, All Our Kings Are Dead, was a giant, catchy and cohesive beast of steady mainstream rock, one of our omnipotent overlords/editors, Dame Hugh Platt, had the temerity to do some sort of “joke” review, which didn’t seem like much of a “joke” at all. Needless to say, while I thought the Young Gun’s sound was a little contrived but fun nonetheless, other parties flung shit at it like overzealous monkeys.
Undoubtedly Bones will cause the same kinds of rift, but this time I’m not entirely sure what side I’m on. On the one hand, Young Guns are still able to create hooks without a moment’s thought, either through blazing gang vocal choruses, tribal drumming or instantly catchy song-writing moments that veers the band well and truly into the mainstream spotlight. On the other hand, Bones is one of the least dangerous offerings that could paddle in the short-end of metal, meaning these young chaps from High Wycombe have erred almost entirely on the side of predictability.
In many ways, this is the most disappointing thing about this record; there are no surprises here either in the way the songs are put together or in the polished sound harnessed by Gustav Wood and his team. The sad truth of it is, this air of predictability makes you wonder whether Young Gun’s well-constructed songs are sincere, or just clever pastiches.
Album opener, ‘I Have Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die’ is a frenetic and urgent cascade into the record that seethes with vitality and a universal pitch of the repeated refrain, “Without pain, tell me what’s the point of glory”. The album is filled with these kind of invocations of humanity’s state in the world, and would wear thin rapidly if it weren’t for Young Gun’s insistently huge sound. This could almost negate some of the criticism hurled at the band for sounding too contrived or formulaic, because Young Guns have gone from sounding like a band trying to be big, to actually creating a record that’s as least as arena-worthy as anything by, say, 30 Seconds to Mars.
Watch the vide to ‘Bones’ by Young Guns:
The songs constructed around pathos, such as the lingering ‘You Are Not’ and ‘Everything Ends’, shed authenticity in favour of large hooky choruses, but if you genuinely want to be moved, then I probably shouldn’t be favouring Young Guns over, say, Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’. Where Bones excels however, is during the brazen stomp of the title track and its sinister guitar intro. In other places, songs like ‘Learn My Lesson’ showcase how Young Guns have strongly harnessed the appealing pop sensibilities of All Our Kings Are Dead in a much more direct and mature fashion.
All in all, this is exactly what you would expect from a Young Guns record, and while it’s the sort of album teeming with genuinely good vocal hooks and well-constructed, pleasing tunes, it’s only ever going to be an entry-level album for those searching for darker climes.
Sounds Like: Lostprophets, 30 Seconds to Mars
Standout tracks: Bones, Learn My Lesson, Headlight