Sound — 7
"Echoes," fourth studio album by a British alternative rock outfit, Young Guns, shows the band learning from the mistakes made on their previous release, a hit-and-miss "Ones & Zeros" released just a year before. The sudden transition from heavy, greasy drop-B tuning riffs that could be found on "Bones" to a more electronically driven arena-rock vibe was a bit too much to take for many old fans, while band was struggling to find any new ones, because of their move to the segment of rock music already full of huge bands.
With "Echoes" guys from Buckinghamshire try to combine the appeal of previous two records, and overall succeed at that. While choruses on tracks like "Mad World," "Awakening" and the title track kick you right in your face, the more laid back and pop flow of some of the verses may attract some fans as well. Take, for instance, the first single off the album, "Bulletproof." It is clearly a rock-anthem that would fit on a soundtrack for any kick-ass even (which is the case with WWE) and it doesn't sound overproduced at the same time.
While there's not much to be said about the rhythm section, it does its job perfectly well, and some of the guitar riffs are quite catchy as well. However, the main strength of this album, as well as the whole Young Guns' discography is in Gustav Wood's vocals, and it's unbelievably pleasant to hear that he still is the main driving force of this band. Be it half-screaming in "Mad World" or gentle singing in "Paradise," Gus reminds us why we fell in love with this band in the first place.
Lyrics — 7
Young Guns were never known for being lyrical geniuses, but some of their lines can really hit home from time to time. And while some of the messages can sound too generic and writing can seem cheesy from time to time, most notably in the song "Paradise," this album is still a collection of introspective, personal poems that some people can find to be quite touching. Also, the musicality of the lyrics is quite good, words flow into each other smoothly, matching the sound of instruments surrounding it, and while some of the rhymes sound a bit too generic, like in the chorus of "Mercury in Retrograde," overall textual content helps making this album pleasant to the ear.
Overall Impression — 8
Perhaps, I will sound biased, since I am a huge fan of the band, and "Bones" is #5 in the list of my favourite albums of all time. This album is definitely weaker than the first two records of the band, for my taste, but it is a slight improvement over "Ones & Zeros" (which I also loved, by the way), and it leaves us curious about what direction the band will take next.
Some gems like "Echoes," "Careful What You Wish For," "Mad World" and "Awakening" will be definitely stuck in my playlist for a while. I believe that most of the band's fans will like this album, while general public is probably going to deem it OK. It has everything you can expect from your usual alt-rock album, although not bringing too much uniqueness to the table.