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Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter Album Cover

Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter

Reviewed by
7.0
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter
Record Label: Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: Jan. 21, 2014

Chalk this one up to pretense.

The highly anticipated sophomore follow-up to Young the Giant’s juggernaut self-titled debut is a mixed bag of awkwardness, superfluous breathiness and more brain-wracking lyrics. Plenty might find album opener “Slow Dive,” gorgeous and inviting but really it’s a waste of 40 seconds that serves no purpose. Ditto for the punchy “Anagram,” which has a cheery chorus and a sun-drenched vibe but does very little on repeat listens. Sure, there’s moments of prettiness and the song does have its share of pleasant moments but it lingers for far too long and is only rescued by Sameer Gadhia’s otherworldly vocals. First single “It’s About Time” is even more confused as it seems to stretch the band into a genre they’re not well suited for. Equal parts garage-pop and avant-garde indie, it sounds way too much like a band trying too hard.

The band seems to find their groove on the gorgeous “Crystallized,” an open-hearted, keys-laden ballad that is the first moment when the band recaptures their previous glories. The languorous title track follows and dresses itself up with a wash of synths, chiming guitars and a cottony veneer that feels far too gussied up. In this four minute wave of mid-tempo moodiness, the band once again appear to be channeling something they are not. The album’s first half concludes with the ringing “Daydreamer,” and the brilliant “Firelight.”

The former is an an accessible, urgent and taut stew of wide-eyed hopefulness that finds Gadhia channeling Lord knows who. In terms of pacing, the song serves itself well but does little to keep the listener wanting to come back for more. On the contrary, “Firelight” is a beacon. A supple acoustic affair that quivers and whimpers with defeat, despair and despondence. Though it does linger far longer than it should there’s a simplicity in its understatement and one of a select few moments on the album’s first half that feels genuine.

The latter half of Mind Over Matter opens with “Camera,” a track the band debuted more than two years ago. Spellbinding, enveloping and nothing short of stunning, the song has a presence and a rhythm that points to just how vastly talented these five Cali dudes are. When they want to give you their best, there are few as compelling as them and “Camera” is a prime example of that. “In My Home” is one of the only songs on Mind Over Matter that revisits the dizzying heights of their ubiquitous self-titled and seems destined to be a crowd-pleaser.

“Eros” is another fiery effort that revisits the sonic histrionics of “It’s About Time” but dives deeper. There’s a kinesis at work that gives the back half more life and finds the band artfully jamming for the song’s final minute. While it can be argued that the song probably should have been higher on the track listing, it’s still an inspired effort from an album desperately in need of inspiration. The band sort of finds itself in the tenacious and spiky “Teachers,” a husky cut of aggression that is certain to speak to those burdened by those feeling beaten down and haggard. Penultimate cut “Waves” attempts for Brit-rock yearning but falls short while album closer “Paralysis” is arguably one of the album’s strongest and a much-needed rescue for an album that has its share of glaring flaws.

Sophomore slumps are nothing new and certainly there are plenty who will find favor with this album. But the band’s ability to mix balladry with antic energy feels somewhat askew here. The album feels too pretty, too overproduced, too nuanced and well, like a band with their head too far up their collective asses. Sophomore albums always find bands trying too hard, struggling to live up to their magnum opus and Mind Over Matter has all the hallmarks of exactly that. The band is immensely talented and knows exactly what they’re doing, so there’s little reason to think the band won’t rescue themselves on their next effort. For now, we’ll see how this one shakes out, pretense and all.

Recommended If You Like As Tall as Lion’s You Can't Take it With You; Mute Math I guess; honestly I have no idea what to compare this to


Tracklisting 1. Slow Dive (0:47)
2. Anagram (4:54)
3. It’s About Time (3:48)
4. Crystallized (4:00)
5. Mind Over Matter (4:04)
6. Daydreamer (3:58)
7. Firelight (5:34)
8. Camera (5:12)
9. In My Home (3:40)
10. Eros (4:10)
11. Teachers (3:48)
12. Waves (4:38)
13. Paralysis (4:35)

Produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, The Mars Volta, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Goldfrapp)


Find Them Here http://www.youngthegiant.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 22
08:30 AM on 01/22/14
#2
dejadegaussed
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Great review, though I may be one of those who is more impressed than yourself (you did mention we would be out there). After first listen I would say 'Mind over Matter' is actually the strongest track. I think they did a stronger job maintaining urgency on their ballads than on their s/t.

Sameer's vocals stick out again above everything else. Love his melodies
09:29 AM on 01/22/14
#3
Circa1628
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I agree that the intro is meaningless. I think it's a good album, but a step-down from their S/T. Once again his vocals are the highlight of the record, for sure.
09:30 AM on 01/22/14
#4
alechall
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these guys suck live. sound is okay but they lack energy. i think this second album kind of rings true to what i experienced live. they sound confused like they don't know if they should be a pop band or an indie band.
09:48 AM on 01/22/14
#5
Gregory Robson
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these guys suck live. sound is okay but they lack energy. i think this second album kind of rings true to what i experienced live. they sound confused like they don't know if they should be a pop band or an indie band.
I would agree, their live show needs tons of work.
09:52 AM on 01/22/14
#6
xHoodieWeather
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The album is a mess. It does right by putting the vocals front and center as it's the best part, but I'm not sure what's going on with the rest. They go through an identity crisis almost as if they were trying to pull off all of the identities that the national has pulled off over the years but all in one album. What puzzles me most is that they constantly go back to the concept they used on the intro: they build up the instruments to create tension and a wall of sound while the vocals build up, but it all gets muddled and becomes noise which is distracting. I think the biggest flaw this album has is that nothing past the vocal performance (and even then, his voice is unique, which makes it interesting, but how long can that compensate for the messy compositions before it gets old?) I'd be hard pressed to find a moment I truly like in this album and would go back to that isn't a hook or a chorus, and that's dangerous when you are trying to have a fanbase that stays devoted, since replay value is everything.
10:01 AM on 01/22/14
#7
AC_Eskimo
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Some of the tracks take a few listens, but this is YTG obviously wanting to make a spacy synth-laden pop record, and they do it excellently.

It's certainly not what I expected, some songs drag on too long, and I wouldn't be surprised if their next record doesn't repeat this sound, but I always feel completely immersed in the beauty of this album when I listen to it.

Also, guy above me, there is no way they suck live. Have you seen the in the open sessions on youtube? They're crazy good.
10:05 AM on 01/22/14
#8
alechall
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Also, guy above me, there is no way they suck live. Have you seen the in the open sessions on youtube? They're crazy good.

I'm not saying they don't sound good. There was just something missing when I saw them. It's like getting a really good looking meal but when you try it there is no flavor.
10:32 AM on 01/22/14
#9
lovemetal24
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This album is killer
10:34 AM on 01/22/14
Gregory Robson
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I'm not saying they don't sound good. There was just something missing when I saw them. It's like getting a really good looking meal but when you try it there is no flavor.
I completely agree. Their sound is tremendous, but Sameer is very wooden as a frontman and the entire performance felt like it was lacking something. I felt no urgency to see them again. So I back you 100 percent.
10:39 AM on 01/22/14
Echoes
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these guys suck live. sound is okay but they lack energy. i think this second album kind of rings true to what i experienced live. they sound confused like they don't know if they should be a pop band or an indie band.
Is this a recent development? I saw them a couple years ago on the first date of their tour with The Apache Relay, and I remember them killing it. That show gave the band some staying power for me.
10:43 AM on 01/22/14
alechall
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Is this a recent development? I saw them a couple years ago on the first date of their tour with The Apache Relay, and I remember them killing it. That show gave the band some staying power for me.

It may be. They really didn't do to much to impress. I loved their first album and was super excited to see it live and after the show I couldn't help but think I really wouldn't listen to it anymore cause it was SOO underwhelming. Usually when I leave a show I wanna listen to that band even more.
11:14 AM on 01/22/14
Moritz421
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It may be. They really didn't do to much to impress. I loved their first album and was super excited to see it live and after the show I couldn't help but think I really wouldn't listen to it anymore cause it was SOO underwhelming. Usually when I leave a show I wanna listen to that band even more.
They have one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Have seen them three times now and they have absolutely blown the roof off of the place. I am not sure where all these reports of a bad live show are coming from. Honestly- they have been amazing each and every time I've seen them.

All of their live stuff online is fantastic. I think they're really tight as a band and always kill it acoustically. I'm really baffled by all of this
11:33 AM on 01/22/14
Steve_JustAGuy
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Quote:
honestly I have no idea what to compare this to

Agree 100 percent. The singles haven't done much for me, but I've listened through a few times. Not good, not bad, it's just kind of in the middle for me.
11:48 AM on 01/22/14
christophsays
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I would agree, their live show needs tons of work.
I've seen these guys a handful of times over the past 2 or 3 years and they have been great every time. the energy is about 70%, channeled mostly by Sameer, but I always find myself having a good time at their shows. I saw them at Jimmy Kimmel last night and I believe the crowd plays a big part in the band's live show. as I was jumping around and singing along, everyone there had their phones out to record Cough Syrup (seriously, they have other songs) or take selfies in front of the JK stage, and I think that sucked the energy right out of the performance.

to the point, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the album, but reading your review makes me want to revisit it and give it another chance. I loved their self-titled and want to love this one as well. thanks for the review.

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