Following indie-rock band Young the Giant’s rather unremarkable and lackluster beginnings (except for a few noteworthy tracks) with their first studio album Young the Giant, is the group’s far superior follow-up album Mind Over Matter. The Orange County quintet known for its multicultural members comes back with an unexpected — but welcome — edge.
Their first studio album was filled with disappointment and a lack of a distinct sound. Some may say that their unconvincing vocals and fusion — or confusion — of rock and metal genres. The band’s ambitious efforts at success with Young the Giant came tumbling down on the rookie band with patchy tracks and mediocre lyrics with no obvious coherent theme. This time around, however, lead singer Sameer Gadhia makes more hits than misses consistently throughout the thirteen-track record, as the rest of the boys back him up with strong guitar riffs and dynamic instrumentals.
In addition, much more focus is put on thematic cohesion with lyrics and melodic instrumentals that are as enjoyable as they are memorable. The album’s title track reveals an underlying theme when Gadhia sings “And when the seasons change / Will you stand by me / ‘Cause I’m a young man built to fall.” The humble lyrics revolve around giving into industry pressure and consequent paralysis — a lesson learned from the group’s former endeavor.
Both album singles, “It’s About Time” and “Crystallized,” definitely take center stage in Mind Over Matter. “Crystallized” is surprisingly agressive. It begins with Gadhia screaming into the first verse over Francois Comtois’ rarely ceasing drumming in the background.
With the chorus of “Crystallized” Sameer passionately sings “This is where I come from / This is where I belong / With the beat of your drum / Not any other,” and this track immediately sets the tone for where the album is going. It is a staple song. The song is also powerful and positive and carries hope for what’s to come in the band’s future.
Mind Over Matter takes on a much heavier rock, almost metal influence with intros comparable to that of Metallica or U2. It also offers something lighter and more fun that can be seen from the likes of the chorus for album-opener “Anagram.”
With Mind Over Matter, Young the Giant boldly takes advantage of each member’s musical talents. Comtois proves he is a force to be reckoned by consistently providing solid beats for every track, while Eric Cannata contributes to the albums synthetic vibes on the keyboard. Gadhia sings with a much more distinct and versatile range than before — the frontrunner also rocks out on the shaker in several selections, going back and forth between percussion and keyboard.
As the album plays on, however, the latter half is a bit more hit-or-miss where the problem of the amalgam of genres reappears ever so slightly. The later tracks seem to at once amass together and lose a little of what made “Crystallized,” opening track “Anagram” and the title track so appealing. Besides the mostly insignificant muddling of tempos that seemingly drags it on for a bit, this album packs a real punch that stands apart from other indie-rock groups.
The percussion-heavy intros of tracks by fellow indie-rock band Cage the Elephant and Alt-J tracks are also closely comparable to some mellower Mind Over Matter songs.
The Irvine, Calif.-based band formerly known as The Jakes, had humble beginnings before changing their name and signing with Roadrunner Records in 2009. Since the group’s debut as Young the Giant, the band lost a keyboardist and two drummers, contributing to the group’s rocky start.
With Mind Over Matter, Young the Giant is finally getting off on the right foot (although no longer under Roadrunner Records). Fueled By Ramen now represents the band that is confidently creating a niche for themselves in the high-pressure music industry. Listeners will be able to pick up on a difference between the indie-rock band’s debut album and Mind Over Matter.
Young the Giant has created a cohesive and relatable album fully clad with impressive and catchy tunes with synthy and hip instrumentals to match.