YOUNG THE GIANT – Mind Over Matter
aaamusic | On 08, Sep 2014
I’m of the opinion that indie died the minute drainpipe jeans became widely accessible to men; I’m speaking of a time before Pete Doherty turned into a parody of himself and the Arctic Monkeys were actually the most exciting band of the planet. Suffice to say, what we consider the alternative is far broader now than it once was. No longer banished to recesses of sticky floored venues in Camden basements, the average 2014 ‘Indie’ band are realistically given the option to go commercial, and on their sophomore release, California five piece Young the Giant try to throw themselves headfirst down that chute.
Obvious influences of emo, early-noughties indie and garage rock are smothered over the whole record but vacant of the original potency, creating an Uncanny Valley of contorted guitar music. With the adopted expertise of seasoned producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, the mixing and overall sound is clean-cut and polished, like great pop music should be; the problem being the songwriting. Not to brandish any clichés of the cleanly status of turds or pigs in formal wear but a song must be fundamentally pure in writing if production is going to boon it’s impact.
On ‘It’s All About Time’, Young the Giant awkwardly pay their respects to Songs About Jane: a crash course on how to craft a flawless pop record. Lacking the dynamo charisma of Levine, the crunchy guitars and quivery vocals act as a decent slipstream for some of the more creative melodies of the album. ‘Daydreamer’ showcases frontman Sameer Gadhia in a lower range that sounds wholly more comfortable and even brooding in more delicate spots. On tracks likes this and ‘In My Home’ (if you’ll excuse the jarring pop-punk breakdown) a more organic approach prevails, the energy of the music translates far better and the over-saturation of choruses is momentarily forgivable.
For the most part, however, experimentation is kept to a minimum. Bar the hazarding of drum machines on ‘Crystallized’, I feel the only progression from the debut comes in the form of a more stadium appropriate dynamic used across the board. A lot can be said for bands that aim this high with this quality of track but I suppose even The Killers were laying the foundations for their future from the moment they debuted.
Despite their innocuous approach to indie-rock, I’m confidant Young the Giant won’t fade away. If the soundtrack to my local Café is any indicator, bands of a similar strain of Bastille or The 1975 have a constantly wanting audience. And even if Mind Over Matter wasn’t the electric and tantalizing release the fans were looking for, I’m sure some of these tracks will soon find a welcome home on a ‘Now! That’s what my Mum calls Rock” compilation CD.