'Mind Over Matter'—Young the Giant Avoids the “Sophomore Slump”

Considering that Young the Giant released its sophomore album, Mind Over Matter, four years after its self-titled debut, eager fans can identify with the title of the first single, “It’s About Time.”  After gaining some degree of mainstream success, many indie bands feel the need to immediately begin working on a sophomore effort that matches listener expectations set by their debut.  Dismissing such pressure, Young the Giant spent four years delivering high-energy, dynamic performances both on tour and at festivals. These experiences undoubtedly allowed them to gain exposure and grow up. When the SoCal quintet released Young the Giant in 2010, its members were only in their early twenties, with much personal and musical growth and exploration to pursue.

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Mind Over Matter serves as a coming-of-age landmark for the band, with its nostalgic melodies and lyrics of self-discovery.  The chorus of its fourth track, “Crystallized,” perfectly summarizes the character of the album—“This is where I come from/This is where I belong/With the beat of your drum/Not any other.”

With its more eclectic instrumentals and song arrangements, Mind Over Matter may not satisfy Young the Giant fans who have anxiously awaited the next anthem alternative-rock hit to follow the debut’s popular singles, “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.”  Nevertheless, the album does improve on 2010’s Young the Giant with newfound depth, exemplifying the band’s musical evolution.  Aside from the aforementioned singles, most of the tracks on Young the Giant, however enjoyable, were ultimately forgettable. Mind Over Matter proves much more memorable, as several of the songs pack a punch, and the album as a whole demonstrates the band’s stylistic range, with no two songs running together in an unremarkable blur.

Layered with electronic organ, synth and string sounds over sophisticated rhythms, Mind Over Matter builds upon—while remaining grounded in—its guitar-driven alternative-rock sound, invigorated by Sameer Gadhia’s powerful vocals.  The second track, “Anagram”, has a cadenced and upbeat tempo accompanied by an infectious chorus that will draw in old and new fans alike.  The title track, a compelling love song, illustrates a man who, through his experience touring the world, has found the person he wants to have by his side in life. He declares that he will do what it takes to make this happen; “Mind over matter/Mind over matter/You know you’re on my mind.”  The catchy and fast-paced “Daydreamer” offers a crowd-pleasing quality reminiscent of “My Body,” before the album shifts its gears over to its true gem—“Firelight”.  Over soft and poignant guitar riffs, Gadhia sings his characteristically meditative, existential lyrics—“Is this the end of the sea/Staring at me?/I could be free/In a dream.”  However, the album reaches its climax with “In My Home”, a solid rock tune that reflects how the band and its members have found themselves in the past four years—“I’ve been racing all my life/And now I’m free…Well, I know I was born for this.”  The album’s final highlight is “Eros,” a subtle jam whose synths and reverbs will have indie kids bobbing their heads and tapping their feet.

Young the Giant fans will ultimately appreciate the time the band took to strategically evade the dreaded “sophomore slump,” as Mind Over Matter demonstrates the promising development of an indisputably talented group of musicians who have proved worthy of their place in the indie-rock spotlight.

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