August 26, 2015 Young Guns – Ones and Zeros (Album Review)
Hailing from the United Kingdom, the band known as Young Guns have been making music together since 2005, and releasing their debut All Our Kings Are Dead in 2010. However, it was their second studio release in 2012 via Wind-up Records, Bones, that really broke the band into the U.S. music scene as well as earning them a record deal with Virgin EMI. The album’s title track ranked No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and was featured as one of the main theme songs for the World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) 29th Annual Wrestlemania event, garnering the band lots of radio play and heavy touring to follow. While Bones established the band as a heavy Alternative Rock act, the ensemble of Gustav Wood (lead vocals), Fraser Taylor (guitar), John Taylor (guitar), Simon Mitchell (bass guitar), and Ben Jolliffe (percussion) still had more ideas to conjure for their future material.
Now in 2015, with melodic crescendos reminiscent of the best of ’80s Pop/Electronic Rock blended with angsty, lovelorn lyrics of the ’90s Alternative/Indie scene, Young Guns have cultivated a sound both nostalgic and all together refreshing in their latest release, Ones and Zeros. Released in June of 2015, Ones and Zeros debuted at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Album chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart, and takes the band on a whimsical spin in style.
That is not to say that the band has lost their edge. Right from the opening track, “Rising Up,” its rebellious anthemic lyrics and heavy guitar hooks make it clear the band’s song and music writing style has stayed intact. In fact, there is heavy guitar through most of the eleven tracks of the record. It is the strong layering of synth that adds an overall Pop-Rock feel. Those components, added with the soulful and rich voice of Wood, makes the emotions in the lyrics so enticing that you just want, to steal a line from hit T.V. drama Grey’s Anatomy, to dance it out! The sentiment is especially applicable to the album’s first single ,”I Want Out.” Who has not dealt with the pains of a tumultuous relationship and just thought about escaping? This song is the perfect anthem for finally getting the guts to set yourself free from heartache. In contrast, the next track, “Infinity,” gets a little slower and is a feel good, in love with life, cheer.
The album will continue to rise and fall like this, and while the upbeat synth works well for some songs, in others, not so much. In particular, in “Memento Mori,” it is a bit distracting and Wood’s voice gets a little monotone. In comparison, “Lullaby,” one of the slowest ballads on the record, Wood’s voice takes on a Bowie-esque quality and complements perfectly with the electronic undertones. The third single to debut off the album, “Daylight,” has Romance/Action movie soundtrack written all over it. Insanely good guitar riffs, catchy chanting lyrics about needing the daylight to renew spirits, feelings, desire; this song is guaranteed to be heard on a big screen. Equally catchy is the second single, “Speaking In Tongues,” and may be sticking with the whole ’80s sound; it is fitting that there lies a little innuendo in the lyrics, “I danced with the devil in the pale moon light. You’ve got such a smart tongue, it cuts me like a knife.” Perhaps an homage to the Joker portrayed by Jack Nicholson in 1989 classic motion picture Batman.
Whether Young Guns be fans of the masked crusader films or not, it is clear that Ones and Zeros will warrant them a multitude of fans. The elements of this album reach across various music genres, making it quite diverse and appealing. When asked about the album, Woods told CrypticRock, “This album is about learning when to add stuff and not to add stuff opposed to kind of adding just for the hell of it; being brave enough just to take away or allow a little space.” Judging by the eleven tracks they put together, that mission was accomplished, and Young Guns are a band certainly on the rise. CrypticRock gives Ones and Zeros 4 out of 5 stars.