If you’ve been paying any attention to indie and indie rock in the past couple years, you’ve probably at least heard of Young the Giant. Their eponymous debut album spawned two gold singles, “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” but the entire album was exemplary of the band’s SoCal style: lush, surfy guitars intertwine with vocals that toe the line between croon and growl. The rhythm section features creative grooves and driving bass, and the entire album is filled out by textures, echoes, and string arrangements.
After years of hard touring, Young the Giant has returned with their sophomore effort. For fans of the first album, Mind Over Matter brings a mixed bag. Gone are the surfy vibes that encapsulated the first album, as are the more abstract lyrics. On the new album, they have been replaced by an eclectic mix of dance, new wave, and straight ahead rock. The lyrics have taken on a more concrete aesthetic, focusing on themes of growing up and finding oneself.
This doesn’t mean that Mind Over Matter isn’t a great album. The band has used their initial success as a springboard, which has allowed them to experiment and innovate on their second album. Tracks such as the opener, “Anagram,” and lead-off single “It’s About Time,” feature odd time signatures and complicated syncopation, but manage to retain their groove. “Firelight” is a must-listen. The plaintive track highlights the band’s diverse cultural influences, and features soaring melodic work by lead singer Sameer Ghadia.
Mid-album rockers such as “Daydreamer,” “Camera,” and “Eros,” bring angular guitar riffs and driving drums reminiscent of the Strokes, Phoenix, and Two Door Cinema Club. The groove through many of these uptempo tracks is infectious, and does one of the things that their first (and still spectacular) album did not: it makes you want to get up and dance.
Overall, Mind Over Matter is a great album. While it deviates from the band’s beloved debut in style, arrangement, and production, it retains the clever melodic hooks, powerhouse rhythm section, and the intelligent musical performance that fans have come to expect from Young the Giant. Most of all, the album reflects YTG’s formidable live show, which unites material from across the band’s catalog. Be sure to check out both albums, and catch the band live if they play within 100 miles of you. It’s worth it.