London-based prospects return with an energetic second album.
Ian Winwood 2012
With the release this week of Van Halen’s surprisingly impressive comeback album, A Different Kind of Truth, many an ageing rock fan has been reflecting that rock stars are no longer made as once they were. And while the image of David Lee Roth springing around a stage with tongue in cheek and one leg 180 degrees above his head is tough to beat, older listeners are often too quick to damn and dismiss young bands who emerge in their own middle age.
Last year Young Guns performed their largest headline show to date, an evening at the 2,000-capacity Forum in London’s Kentish Town. It was the biggest night of their professional lives, and when the stage lights broke (and remained broken for the rest of the evening) so too did the headliners’ hearts. But faced with this calamity, frontman Gustav Wood led the band through an hour’s worth of music that could be heard even if the group could not be seen; with single-handedness and single-mindedness he saved the night. In doing so, and without knowing it, he marked out his group as ones to watch.
Bones is a fiery yet melodious modern rock album made by a band who may come to regret their name should they survive to become old hands. The quintet’s songs are built from the beat up – it’s not difficult to imagine their drummer attacking his kit like a monkey at a salad bar – but atop such emphasis sits many a strong chorus and a good deal of high production values.
This last quality is, though, both one of Bones’ strengths and one of its weaknesses. Young Guns find themselves in a meat market crowded with many similar groups, all of whom have a keen eye for a chorus and a strong sense of modern technology. Of those Auto-Tuned to the nines, not all from a class that includes You Me at Six, The Blackout, Deaf Havana and Kids in Glass Houses (to name only a few) will survive for even the medium, let alone the long haul.
Whether or not Young Guns have the stamina, talent and charisma to outlive the cull is not a question fully answered by the music made here.