“It’s about time,” Sameer Gadhia screams in the lead single of Young the Giant’s new work, Mind Over Matter, reflecting my thoughts regarding the lack of new music from one of my favorite bands.
Musically, the album feels slightly different from Young the Giant’s previous work. The double-tracked guitars and Gadhia’s rich vocals remain the base for musical development, but are often supplemented here with the increased role of the synthesizer.
Occasionally, this technique wo-rks well. The second single, “Crystallized,” features heavy, layered electric guitars underneath a gorgeous, synthetic melody which fades away as the verses begin. “Is the house we’ve built still here?” Gadhia sings as an accented, staccato guitar line keeps time with a substantial drum line.
The chorus emerges from this cadence without warning, as Gadhia’s voice soars: “This is where I come from, this is where I belong.” The track indicates a new sense of self-awareness, who were criticized in their first album for a lack of substance and meaning in their lyrics. But here, the lyrics address themes of adulthood and the continual search for your place in the world.
The best song on the album, though, does not seem to concern itself with themes. In “Firelight,” Young the Giant chooses instead to speak directly to an object of affection with vivid, passionate images.
The vocals are soft, yet confident, with slight breaking and sliding. The lyrics are gentle and suspend the listener from a state of consciousness. “I’m in a parachute. Falling in a deep, sleep” Gadhia croons over the dazzling texture, which includes nuanced, ambient synth tones for added depth.
Unfortunately, the rest of album fails to even approach the beauty captured in this one song. This downfall can be attributed to the musical layering, which is not as refined in the rest of the album as it is in “Firelight,” or in Young the Giant’s previous work.
A prime example of this problem lies in “Anagram,” the cumbersome song that serves as the album’s opener is uncomfortably busy, with too many concurrent musical elements. The synthesizer is heavily distorted and pervasive, and generally unpleasant.
Ultimately, Mind Over Matter is lackluster. It presents some important themes and a couple of standout compositions, but something in “my body tells me no.”
Voice’s Choices: “Firelight,” “Crystallized”