Young Guns – Ones and Zeros [Album Review]

In the past year, Young Guns have undergone an exciting rebirth, exploding back onto the British and American rock scene with the release of their third studio album, Ones and Zeros. With a three and a half year wait since the release of Bones, which saw them rise to the top of the charts and have a seemingly endless series of UK/EU and US tours, it was uncertain whether Young Guns would sink or float in the increasingly choppy waves of the alternative music scene. They could have played it safe, made a ‘Bones II’ and be done with it. But they didn’t.

Opening track Rising Up instantly indicates the new direction that Young Guns are headed, drip feeding a smooth, melodic flow of synth beats before detonating into powerful bass-heavy rock. Immediately, Ones and Zeros oozes confidence and an energy that persists throughout the rest of the record. This is prevalent in I Want Out, a jaw dropping blend of slick bass rhythms, crashing drums, intricate guitars and thunderous gang vocals expertly intertwined with bursts of synth that makes for a show stopping dance hit. Memento Mori is another shining example of Ones and Zeros transcending genre barriers – rhythmic drum beats, repetitive choruses and periodic outbursts of ‘hey!’ are reflective of the more mainstream influences on the album, yet the track still keeps its groundings in rock.

However, although Young Guns have energy and vigour in abundance, they also demonstrate their gentler side with Lullaby and Die on Time. Both songs commence as slow, soft tracks that steadily build up into a ballad-like climax complete with pianos, deafening drums and hard-hitting, elongated notes from vocalist Gustav Wood. Both songs are solemn and emotional gems, the rubies on the treasure chest that is Ones and Zeros.

The peak of the album comes in the form of Speaking In Tongues, an anthemic godsend of a song that’s not only a stand-out track from Ones and Zeros, but is a highlight of Young Guns’ entire musical career. A fiery explosion of deep bass riffs, violent drums, powerful guitars and Gustav Wood’s dynamic vocals, this track firmly cements Young Guns’ place at the forefront of the British rock scene.

Ones and Zeros is beautifully indefinable. Its irresistible mixing of genres and styles reflect the complicated and often unstable writing process that has consumed Young Guns over the past two years. Ones and Zeros was written between the US and the UK, and this influx of influence is reflected in the final product. It is an amalgamation of the past three and a half years: copious amounts of experience, changes in their styles of writing, the band being torn apart and reborn stronger, louder, better.

It’s different from anything they’ve ever done, but it’s also different from anything most rock bands have done. It’s a beautiful hybrid of pulsating electronic beats and fiery anthemic riffs – it’s bursting with creative genius, and it’s a risk that is certain to pay off. Although this may be an exciting new direction for the five-piece, there are some things that never change. They’ve never lost the energy or the dynamism demonstrated in All Our Kings Are Dead and Bones and, as usual, Gustav Wood’s breath-taking affinity for lyrical poetry is humbling. This album is revolutionary, and Young Guns are going to dominate the world of music like they’ve never done before.


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