In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Young the Giant’s lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia sums up the difficulty of finding their voice in their second album “Mind Over Matter.” The different mixes of music in the album — ranging from their standard alternative rock sound to 80s-tinged synth pop — sometimes don’t match, but otherwise provide a definitive example of the band’s personal growth.
Given the four-year gap between their debut album and “Mind Over Matter,” it doesn’t come as a surprise that the major theme to Young the Giant’s latest output deals with overcoming struggles. The album’s title track, with a soaring string accompaniment playing an upbeat key, boasts the lyrics, “And if the world don’t break / I’ll be shakin’ it / ‘cause I’m a young man after all / and if the seasons change / will you stand by me? / ‘cause I’m a young man built to fall.” The listener is ensnared in the speaker’s vulnerability, but fortunately the song’s drums push the tempo, which keep the listener on the optimistic side of Gadhia’s vocals.
“Firelight” is the most versatile track on the album, musically speaking. The subtle, almost subliminal guitar riff, descending between notes and ever-changing keys, is incredibly eerie. It’s the type of song one could play on an acoustic guitar, sitting beside a campfire, gazing at the sky on a starry night. Godhi reinforces that ambiance as he softly sings, “I don’t believe this is the end of the sea staring at me? / I could be free in a dream.” Musically speaking, this song could be a great hit for “Mind Over Matter.” It’s disappointing knowing that for as much as this song strengthens the album’s maturity, it’s not even one of the two lead singles.
“Eros” is one of the more pop-ish songs on the album and doesn’t match Young the Giant’s alternative rock sound, but thankfully doesn’t hurt the album. The song’s lyrics still stick to the band’s intention of showing off their creative struggles, with one line speaking directly to the listener in “Don’t call it quits / Cold hard stare / I won’t go if / You’re standing there.” Unfortunately, the actual music that makes up the song definitely strays from what fans of Young the Giant are used to. The synth and the guitar riff sounds like they were ripped from an 80s hit by The Police, which doesn’t match with the rest of the album. However, “Eros” only ends up being a minor smudge on the band’s attempt at diversifying their alternative rock sound.
After a four-year hiatus from the recording studio, Young the Giant has returned with a fresh album, hoping to display the growth and maturity that’s needed for them to escape the bottomless pit of being a one-hit wonder. And aside from a few ticks, they have succeeded.
Rating: 4 stars