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Album review: Young Guns - Ones and Zeros

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★★★★☆

Since the release of their second studio album, 2012’s critically acclaimed Bones, London rockers Young Guns have been constantly on the rise.

Over the past few years, the British quintet have played festival main stages throughout the country, achieved chart success in both the UK and the US, and signed to major record label Virgin EMI, via which their third studio album, Ones and Zeros, is released.

It’s no wonder, then, that this record sees the band ascend triumphantly to that all-important next level, and takes them right to the forefront of the UK rock scene.

Make no mistake, however: Ones and Zeros is as much a pop record as it is a rock record. This is not a result of it being the band’s first major label release – ever since the release of their debut album, 2010’s All Our Kings Are Dead, Young Guns’ music has always featured the catchy hooks and accessibility of pop, while still hammering out rock beats and chunky riffs.

But Ones and Zeros is a serious progression of the band's sound – infinitely more refined, ambitious and bigger than any of their previous releases, it feels like the album Young Guns always wanted to make.

Right from explosive opener ‘Rising Up’, with its imposing, dominant riff, huge chorus, and those skittering electronics present throughout the record, there’s a real sense of conviction and determination that never falters once throughout the album. This is particularly evident on current single ‘Daylight’, too, with its blistering guitar melodies and frontman Gustav Wood’s rousing vocal that leads its irresistible chorus.

While a pop record in many ways – namely in its slick production and those anthemic, stadium-ready choruses on the likes of singles ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Speaking In Tongues’ – Ones and Zeros has a complexity and depth that’s often missing from daytime radio-friendly music, like in the subdued verses of ‘Gravity’, that contrast beautifully with its soaring guitar solo. Or, in Wood’s soft, delicate vocal on ‘Die On Time’, a wonderfully layered and melodic track, and a definite highlight of the album.

There is no doubt about it: Ones and Zeros is serious business. And Young Guns are a force to be reckoned with.

Ones and Zeros is out now via Virgin EMI. 

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