Are Young Guns really the next great big British rock band? That seems to be the consensus of much of the domestic rock cognoscenti. After Bon Jovi chose the fresh-faced quintet as support for the first night of their London residency at The O2 arena, they're certainly going in the right direction. But as we all know, big is not always beautiful.
Having burst out of High Wycombe just a year ago with their debut EP, the band displays some brazen self-belief by releasing their debut album themselves (and earn no little kudos in the process). Dreamboat-in-waiting Gustav Wood's lovelorn, near-apocalyptic lyrics manage to strike a chord that lasts the duration of the album, and there are enough huge stadium rock moments for this not to feel like a band's first proper release. Also admirably accomplished is the slick production, which again has this band sounding bigger than they are.
Opening track Sons of Apathy is a bold slice of radio-friendly, sing-along rock while recent single Winter Kiss involves some craftily pinched harmonics before the neo-gothic tinges in the chorus add further drama. The dirty feel to D.O.A and the subtly stringed background to After the War lend contrast and variety to the album.
While it is a fair argument that bands similar to Young Guns haven't found an identity to go with their style, it's not quite the case here. While this is certainly an album - and indeed a band - aimed at a very similar fanbase to acts like Lostprophets and You Me At Six, there's just enough of an edge to their image and sound to differentiate them. Indeed, there's no respite as the music boils over and lunges forward with comfortable familiarity throughout these 50 minutes. There are very few songs that you won't be able to sing the refrains from after a listen or two, should you so wish.
It's questionable whether Young Guns will have any lasting impression upon the annals of rock history, but the current hyperbole they're enjoying on their rise through the ranks may well help them corner a wildly impressionable section of the market. For some that might not be enough, but for the rest it's all they need.