In the alternative rock/post-hardcore genre, most acts teeter on the fine line between aggressive, face-melting tracks, and reputation-crippling cheesiness. Even the most subtle nuances can force a band over the edge and seemingly turn the entire listening experience into a joke.
However, some acts manage to venture down that line, performing with grace and ease, like professional circus performers walking the tightrope in a death-defying finale. The men of Young Guns do just that with their latest opus, Bones, which is bursting with aggressive, rebellious rock anthems and cryptic pseudo-ballads. Needless to say, these Brits have the rock and roll guts to maintain the attention of listeners, as well as the sheer ability to be radio-friendly and share the stage with mainstream acts like Bon Jovi.
Opening with a promising start, the album ignites with “I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die,” which bursts with shredding guitar riffs that perfectly complement Gustav Wood’s full, semi-operatic vocals. With lyrics seeping with hopefulness, the rest of the troupe—Fraser Taylor and John Taylor, who alternate between rhythm and lead guitar roles, Simon Mitchell (bass) and Benjamin Jolliffe (percussion)—perfectly keep pace to truly make the lyrics come alive.
Young Guns’ overall will to push their musical limits and gauge listeners’ emotions carries through into the band’s single “Bones,” a cryptic track that borderlines on seductiveness, complete with mischievous interplay between drums, bass and guitar. But it is tracks like “Towers (On My Way),” “Learn My Lesson” and “Headlights” that truly stand out against the more commonplace songs on the 12-track album.
The band also manages to make room for “Broadfields,” the most superior of their semi-ballad attempts. While the song seemingly lingers and has the power to truly hit listeners’ cores, others, such as “Everything Ends,” sell the group short.
Overall, Bones has the endurance of a consistent and highly marketable rock record, largely driven by the stamina and musical chemistry of Young Guns. Despite some tracks in the middle of the album that merely simmer on the backburner, there are enough standout cuts to make it a solid representation of the UK rockers.
In A Word: Consistent