Following the very successful release of their self-titled debut album in 2010, southern California quintet Young the Giant has a lot to live up to with their second full-length release, Mind Over Matter. Purveyors of a radio-friendly brand of indie rock, the band has become known for catchy pop hooks, soaring vocals, and skittering percussion fills. Mind Over Matter partially retains these familiar elements, but takes on a slightly darker edge and gets more experimental with instrumental layering and electronic sounds. Unfortunately, the overall product doesn’t surpass its predecessor; and while it’s hardly a flop, the album fails to deliver high-quality songs from start to finish.
“Teachers” perfectly exemplifies the slightly overdone feeling that accompanies many tracks on the album. The song starts off strong with a driving drum beat, upbeat guitar lines, and some very forceful vocals on the part of lead singer Sameer Gadhia as he shouts through the chorus. However, the song occasionally drifts into strange glitchy electronic moments that don’t suit its tone, or frankly, the sound of the band.
On the other hand, “Mind Over Matter,” “Daydreamer,” and “Firelight” are standouts—perhaps because they are most reminiscent of the band’s older work. “Firelight” is by far the record’s most sparsely produced track, but this is what makes it so appealing; it allows you to properly absorb the content instead of being distracted by all the sonic action.
Though Young the Giant has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with Mind Over Matter, it doesn’t quite live up to their previous work. Most of the tracks stand well on their own; but as a whole, the album feels slightly claustrophobic, with too much layering and synth noise. Growth in a band is always good, but perhaps Young the Giant should stick a little closer to their roots in their next endeavour.