Album Review: Young the Giant, Mind Over Matter

Young the Giant tries to rekindle the spark that blew them up, but the results are mixed.

Anthemic So-Cal outfit Young the Giant’s sophomore full-length is a mildly fun but ultimately forgettable record that makes a valiant effort at trying to capture the spark that made the Cali fivesome so likable in the first place.

Make no mistake, Mind Over Matter is a decent LP, but it hardly compares to the group's eponymous debut, and massive alt rock radio singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” almost feeling like happy accidents in hindsight.

Lead off track “Anagram” sets the album’s tone, opening with muted, staccato guitar plucks that segue into a breezy, upbeat groove interspersed with frontman Samer Gadhia’s smoky vocals, which traverse an entire octave like it’s nothing.

First single "It's About Time" is YTG’s obvious second-album “Watch out world, we’re a DIFFERENT band now” song, which in the spectrum of those type of songs, fares pretty well. The opening riff is easily their most ballsy to date, hearkening back to some of Sunny Day Real Estate’s heavier riffs as it chugs in an interesting three-quarter-time groove before descending into altogether peculiar but ultimately palatable territory.

Title track “Mind Over Matter” is a nauseating stab at some kind of love serenade that tries incredibly hard to be deep, but is so stupidly vague, my eyeballs could’ve powered light bulbs with the sheer force of their rolling. Rhyming “train” “rains” and “planes” should’ve died with the disco ball, but here they are again, I guess.

Meaningless lyrics aside, YTG’s ambitiousness lends itself to some mildly interesting cuts, including the subdued “Firelight” that’s almost Elliot-Smith-ian in its delicateness, and “Eros,” which feels like a wholly-acceptable nod to the The Police while still maintaining an identity of its own.

Young the Giant seem like they want to be something on Mind Over Matter, but are unwilling to gamble on evolving from what got them here, which is understandable, but a tad underwhelming.

Critics' Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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