Not the revamp that some fans may have hoped for.
Lead singer Gustav Wood once said that Young Guns is “just a rock band” and that might be the best way to describe them. They’re straight rock music and Echoes isn’t straying from that. The British quintet has been busy lately, touring on the grueling Vans Warped Tour after a full schedule on the festival circuit. Their previous album, Ones and Zeros, was also released just 15 months prior to Echoes. When a band is writing and recording while juggling a full tour schedule, their music can take a hit. For better or for worse, Young Guns haven’t diminished, but rather have stayed stagnant.
Any song off Echoes could’ve as easily come from either of Young Guns’ previous albums, which makes for a seamless touring set, but shows a block in the creative evolution of the band. On the album’s lead single, “Bulletproof,” Wood sings about a generalized angst that is easy to harness into a three-minute Angry Boy anthem, but it doesn’t allow listeners to form a real connection to the music. The rest of the album follows much the same pattern: Wood sings about an event or person that made him angry, supported by a quick and aggressive drum beat.
Echoes could also benefit from the writing workshop advice to “kill your darlings” in order to make way for a cleaner, more effective storyline. Throughout the album there are phrases that cause the rock lyric buzzword-finder to ping incessantly, but that otherwise serve no real purpose. In the album’s title track, Wood sings, “You’re beautiful when you decay,” which makes for a provocative image, but doesn’t serve a point in the song besides further confusing the message.
Aside from the lyrical downfalls, the music is still melodic and catchy as all hell, the kind of stuff we’ve come to expect from Young Guns. Wood’s voice is powerful when paired with Fraser Taylor’s insistent guitar. There’s something reliable about a band that is able to consistently deliver tight, upbeat tracks, but there’s also something frustrating as well. Now that Young Guns have become so solid in both their studio albums and their live sets, it seems time to up the ante a bit.
The only song that elevates their usual sound a bit is “Awakening.” It’s still melodic rock. It still uses a few too many unrelated references to kings and queens. It’s still Young Guns, but it’s a bit stranger, a bit different from the other 10 tracks on the album. “Awakening” opens with just Wood’s vocals and an eerie blend of synthesizer sounds, and it’s this quiet beginning that makes the build to their usual power that much more effective. It’s not reinventing the wheel, just giving the wheel a bit of flair.
Echoes isn’t the revamp that some fans may have hoped for, but it speaks to the band’s consistency even if they don’t want to change things up just yet. After losing their original drummer earlier this year, the band is in a transitional mode and, hopefully, after taking the time to craft their next venture, they will decide to incorporate a fresh perspective into the music as well.