The meteoric rise of High Wycombe’s Young Guns began showing signs of disintegration in the wake of last year’s ‘Ones and Zeroes’. Returning to a more vibrant UK alt-rock scene than they left off and less exciting songs, they never quite reached the momentum that the hook packed action of ‘All Or Kings Are Dead’ and ‘Bones’ took them before. Naturally, fourth full-length ‘Echoes’ needs to be a serious rebound for the now-quartet.
The reality of their position in rock’s back seat isn’t unnoticed by frontman Gustav Wood judging by opener ‘Bulletproof’. “Out of time, out of place and the people we’ve become. In the cold, we embrace, tell me where did we go wrong”, he proclaims above a considerably stripped-back guitar groove. While this could be interpreted as self pity for himself and bandmates, a defiant claim of “I’ve found a spark, so tonight I’ll start a fire” before the band amps up the distortion shows they still have fight in them.
Ultimately, the group manage to keep this fighting spirit up across most of the album. Their penchant for stratospheric anthems remains in check on tracks like ‘Mad World’ or the adrenaline-spiked ’Buried’ which recalls the urgency of earlier works.
Slicker production and the use of electronics have also made its way into ‘Echoes’. Vibrant flashes of synthesised backdrops on ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Awakening’ gives nods to the melodrama of new wave bands and creates a more grandiose soundscape that has always fitted Young Guns’ songwriting.
Though it would be an exaggeration to call ‘Echoes’ a mind-blowing album, it shows signs of life for Young Guns that seemed to be slipping away this time last year. With catchy melodies and an impassioned performance, this is a satisfying collection of alt-rock songs. Less ambitious songs, but songs to guarantee enormous crowd responses in venues. And that’s enough of a rebound for now.
’Echoes’ by Young Guns is released on September 16th on Wind-up Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)