Young the Giant: Mind Over Matter
To begin, Young the Giant is a great band. They are pioneers in today’s rock world and are filled with talent, an enormous fan base and not to mention, they hail from our home town here in Orange County… So, obviously, they get brownie points. They have lifted their genre to new heights and are instrumental in placing Orange County on the map as a music destination.
Their first mainstream, self-titled release was a fine introduction to the band. The album was filled with pop themes, powerful hooks, and expert artistry. That is all it was, however, an introduction. The surface was merely scratched in revealing the band’s potential and the new album, Mind Over Matter, acted as scaffolding for the band as they reach new heights and grow into their potential.
“Grow” is the key word here however. They may be ‘pioneers’ in the rock field; but in the context of today, they are essentially pioneers of a maggot filled deer carcass. But this piece isn’t an assessment on the state of the Rock genre; but as the metaphor above goes, what once was pure and beautiful has become tainted with corruption, greed and… well… maggots. It’s not ideal to live in a world where bands like Neon Trees and The Illumineers are allowed to work the helm and steer the course of the genre.
But I digress…
Young the Giant held up a beacon of light on Mind Over Matter. There were some clear moments of risk, creativity and all around mastery in execution; however, on the whole these complex layers landed flat due to an oversaturation of pop and simplistic lyrical content.
An argument can be made that this album needs to be looked at from an indie rock lens as opposed to the conventional scope of “rock.” Unfortunately, through the perspective of the standard themes surrounding the term ‘indie,’ Mind Over Matter would fall flatter than the classic definition of rock. By definition, this album landed in the pop category. Like most ‘rock’ music of today, it is a pop album with rock themes.
In general, the album was safe, hook heavy, and danced within the confinements of existing ideas. An emphasis on the phrase, “In General,” is key here because there were a few shining moments (3 tracks specifically) that the band broke from these strict definitions and developed a sound that was large, risky and creative, all the while being very listenable. These moments were glorious.
Where risks were taken, and embraced, the sound benefited and Young the Giant flew sky high. For the majority of the LP however, risks were stamped out and replaced with overly simplistic hooks/melodies riding on the shoulders of lead guitars or keyboards or vocals. This is unfortunate because at their best, the band produced a sound consisting of the musical complexity of an early 2000’s Incubus mixed with the left field, powerful, hook-qualities of Kings of Leon’s, Only By The Night. It is a strong combination that was utilized so sparsely on the album.
Mind Over Matter gets a 6/10 for the glory moments alone. Without the moments, the band gets a generous 4/10. At their worst, Young the Giant maintain to be more significant than the majority of mainstream artists doing the same thing. The band needs to capitalize on and embrace the unconventional. Not dwell in the trends of the mainstream. Their follow up album is significant given the context of band’s peers and, thankfully, Young The Giant doesn’t appear to be drifting from their super star status any time soon. They are not a fad… yet. They will become one however, if safety is maintained and there isn’t a clear striation from the normal. There is hope for these talented dudes, and their potential is gargantuan.
Album Highlights: Anagram, It’s About Time, Firelight, Teachers, Waves