Young the Giant has certainly picked up the pace on its new album Mind over Matter but seems to have lost a bit of its charm in the process. On the whole, it is a very well constructed and produced record. It sounds wonderful, thanks to producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s work and the band’s lovely new exploration in a multitude of new textures and experimental sounds. Very few songs stick out in particular, but the album is definitely worth a closer look.
The album’s strongest section is the beginning, and this is demonstrated by possibly the best song on the album, “Anagram.” It’s a jangly, fun track that really shows how far the band has come since its last release.
The next three tracks, which are the three singles that were released for the album, are also strong. Each explores a different musical facet, with “It’s About Time” focusing on heavy rock riffs and “Crystallized” being a vocal showcase for frontman Sameer Gadhia. “Mind over Matter” plays with new electronic sounds and creates a great atmosphere for the track, although vocally and instrumentally, it doesn’t really stand out.
The songs “Firelight” and “Camera” are very attention grabbing. They’re both haunting ballad-like songs that are completely driven by the force of Gadhia’s voice, which is in top form throughout this entire album. “Firelight” in particular is somewhat reminiscent of “Cough Syrup” from the band’s first album, as the guitar tone is almost exactly the same.
While listening to “Camera,” I was immediately drawn in by how powerful the vocals are. It also has quite an interesting sound to it, and the only way I can think to describe it is “electric tribal.” These songs are all must-listens of the album and make up its better first half.
The second half of the album leaves something to be desired. Songs like “Daydreamer,” “Teachers” and “In My Home” are fast and frenetic, but don’t catch me by any means. The last couple of songs in particular sort of meander, relying more on their new electric textures and soundscapes than on quality songwriting and instrumentation.
All in all, despite its flaws, this is a strong record. The vocals are a sure highlight, and the band still plays well together for most of the album. The album also shows the group not being afraid to branch out and experiment, which almost always signifies good things for an up-and-coming band. It shows they don’t want just to be known as the band that sang “Cough Syrup.”
Signing to Fueled by Ramen is probably one of the best choices the band made to foster its sound. Though I’m giving the album a modest review, I still think, for the most part, that it’s a very well constructed album. It might just take a different ear to fully appreciate it and really take in all it has to offer.