Young Guns

Ones and Zeros

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The English stadium rockers' third studio long-player and first outing for Virgin/EMI, Ones and Zeros doubles down on the more mainstream aspects of 2012's Bones, while introducing some progressive elements into the band's arsenal. More Killers and Imagine Dragons than Lostprophets and Muse, the 11-track set bristles with kinetic flourishes of anthemic California electropop, yet retains enough Anglo-alt-rock backbone to garner at least a cursory nod from the hard rock crowd. These are songs meant to be consumed in large open-air festivals amidst a sea of tattered wrist bands, glassy eyes, and plastic cups, with highlights arriving via the rousing "Speaking in Tongues" and the equally spirited "Memento Mori" and "Daylight." Hints of a metalcore shoot through the beefy opener "Rising Up," but are soon dashed against the rocks by the pure, "whoa"-heavy radio pop pandering of "I Want Out." In fact, nearly every track on Ones and Zeros feels like it's about to break into Bastille's "Pompeii" at any given moment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does give the sense that a certain template was laid out, and all the band had to do was plug in and fill in the empty bits. That said, frontman Gustav Wood is a solid vocalist with the kind of clean, power-forward croon that lends itself well to the material, and the band digs in with gusto, tossing nuance out the door (for the most part) and just letting the needle stay in the red, but it's hard not to feel like the whole affair is just one long song in search of an epic sports achievement montage.

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