There’s two things you should know about the new album from Gun. One, that it sounds nothing like Gun. Two, that it doesn’t matter a bit, because it’s actually really good.
With the first point, it should probably be pointed out that it’s hard to really pin down what Gun actually should sound like anyway, given that they began life as a traditional hard rock band before achieving success with a Cameo cover, dipping their toes into rap-rock before ending up as keyboard-driven popsters, then splitting up 15 years ago.
Given that frontman Mark Rankin hasn’t been a part of the band since they reformed a few years ago, and given that the line-up has constantly changed throughout their career, a lack of consistency isn’t surprising either. Indeed, since the reunion, they’ve had Little Angels star Toby Jepson as their new singer, only to go their separate ways, leaving bassist Dante Gizzi to pick up the microphone stand.
Part of the reason that Break The Silence doesn’t sound like what went before is that his voice is totally different to Rankin’s, actually bearing more hallmarks of someone like Axl Rose, and complicating matters further is that he was the vocalist in the short-lived El Presidente, so there’s moments where this band sounds a bit like that band more than Gun.
It’s all very confusing, yeah? What isn’t confusing is that this is Gun’s most focused and consistently hard-rocking album since Gallus, and is an impressive return after the misguided 0141 632 6326 (don’t call that number, unless you live in Scotland want to learn to drive, by the way – I do remember calling it at the time though). The Gizzi brothers and their latest recruits have done a really good job of pulling it together and it’s a load of fun.
Some of the songs, like Bad Things, Running Out Of Time, Last Train and opener Butcher Man are as good as anything Gun have done before, and that’s a surprising thing to say, given how many great tracks they left behind from their initial stint as one of the most underrated British rock bands around. There’s no sense of nerves as they embark upon this second chapter of their lives, just confidence, great guitar work and lots of very memorable choruses that will go down a storm at gigs.
It’s hard to see where Gun fit into the world now, even more so than before they first split up. Like a lot of rock bands who have an unexpected hit, they were almost undone by trying to work out what to do after it, and 0141 was certainly a reaction to the success of Word Up. The difference is now that they don’t need to try and be what anyone else expects them to be, because the world has no expectations of them. Break The Silence is not only the sound of a band quite literally breaking their own silence, but also rediscovering and reaffirming their old identity and their new one. And, in all those ways, it works a treat.
It doesn't happen for everyone, but some artists just get better with age, and John Hiatt is one of those. Not that it helped him sell out the HMV Ritz as part of the first Blues Fest to reach up here to Manchester, sadly, but those who did attend were treated to a fine display from one of the most underrated musicians around.