Sound: "Bones" is the straightforwardly titled second record from UK band Young Guns. Despite coming from High Wycome, the band's sound is for me comparable to the Welsh scene prolific in the mid-noughties. Pin-pointing exact genres in that area has always been hard to do, and the sound shown on the bands 2010 debut, "All Our Kings Are Dead", is probably best considered as a blend of Funeral For A Friend and Kids In Glass Houses, the backdrop alternating from pacey, post hardcore to a more archetypal "emo" sound. Like those bands Young Guns carry a very strong sense of melody, and what gives them a strength against they're peers is vocalist Gus Wood's stellar vocal range, caught between a natural youthfulness and a gritted angst. The lead guitar is often another focal point in this area, and whilst not technically as dazzling as others the work here is always extremely effective with particularly good use of echo and tremolo picking.
The premise remains pretty much the same on "Bones" and the record for the most part serves as a continuation more than anything else. That said the overall sound does have a tendency to levitate towards a more melodic edge than it's predecessor. Despite SikTh guitarist Dan Weller being on production duties like before, the vocals don't seem to be as shrouded in reverb as they were on "AOKAD" and as a result carry more presence and a slightly cleaner edge. Likewise the guitar play dilutes itself a little bit further in areas of this record, the lead guitaring still often effective but tailored towards the melodic with more "hummable" lines.
The opening one-two of "I Was Born..." and "Dearly Departed" serve as probably the two most significant nods towards a more mainstream sound, the latter especially sounding like it wouldn't be out of place on Paramore or recent Lostprophets records, more obvious melodies and octave-led guitar work giving the song a bit more of a bounce. Beyond this the band begin to kick on and don't look back. Title track "Bones" is one of the albums top highlights, a delay induced guitar pattern ticks along throughout, a more aggressive tone restored to the vocals and delivery of an incredibly infectious pre-chorus and chorus. "Towers", "Brother In Arms" and first single "Learnt My Lesson" see the band hit a purple patch in the middle of the record, all high energy, effect-soaked guitar runs and sure live favourites with hooks aplenty.
Amongst this and a couple of minute long chilled-out interludes lies for me another highlight in "You Are Not", Young Gun's answer to 30STM "From Yesterday", clean and relaxed verse work making way for an explosive and emotive chorus, rich in distortion, the vocals pushed all the way. Album closer "Broadfields" proves effective in a similar way, building up to a heavy climax. // 8
Lyrics: Whilst not completely cryptic Young Guns lyrics are open to plenty of interpretation, Gus Wood often referring to individual moments in the verse before being more relatable in the pre-chorus and chorus sections. The themes in this record carry over from the last, many songs looking at the idea of self-motivation and determination and making our precious time on earth count. "I Was Born...", "Towers" and "Learn My Lesson" come from a low place looking forward, where as "Bones" and more obviously "Everything Ends" look more towards moments which inspire strength along the way. "Dearly Departed" serves as the main romantic moment, wrapped up in a strong commitment. The most intriguing moment for me is "You Are Not" which can be read as expressing cynicism or sympathy. // 8
Overall Impression: Fans seeking a continuation will find "Bones" to be a great record, if they are looking for a heavier or poppier sounding proposition either way than they might be slightly deterred. Young Guns' carry their sound with an intensity and vigour worth clinging on to in a genre perhaps lacking quality overall. // 8