Although I enjoyed and purchased the self titled debut from California's Young The Giant, it was one of those albums that kind of wore off on me after awhile. Catching flak from certain individuals whose opinions on music I respect didn't help either, practically making me feel I had to apologize for liking their multicultural take on melodic rock music. I still like a handful of tracks, but it is not an album I revisit often as a whole.
There will be no apologies when it comes to the band's sophomore effort. Mind Over Matter is a far better album than their debut in every way. In fact, it blows it out of the water. The melodies are stronger, the choruses incredibly catchy, there are hooks upon hooks and lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia is a powerful presence throughout. The band's sound this time is much fuller, much louder and harder, with a much more prominent electronic element added to their pop/rock mix. Enlisting veteran producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has worked with heavyweights like Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Dido and M83 was a shrewd move.
As I usually do with new releases, I have lived with this album for about a week in the car after my initial headphone listen and it just keeps getting better. There is no sophomore slump and this is not an album that will wear out its welcome. The songcraft and production are first class and you are bombarded with one undeniably catchy song after another. After the brief intro "Slow Dive," things kick right into gear with "Anagram," a song that wouldn't have been out of place on their debut. Lead single "It's About Time" is a straight forward rock track and the album is off and running.
Starting with Gadhia's howl, "Crystallized" is an obvious single and the first song to bring a strong keyboard line to the forefront. The title track is a personal favorite, heavy on buzzing synths and an aggressive lead vocal. "Daydreamer" is another pumped up rocker before things take a step back for the album's only two ballads. "Firelight" simmers along with mostly just guitar as the backing instrument to the restrained lead vocal, while "Camera" is awash in synths and electronic effects.
The only song here that doesn't truly connect with me is "Eros," an electro-pop track with a chorus that is a tad too sugary sweet for my tastes. But the second half of the album is still heavy with prime material, from the intense "Teachers" to the slick pop/rock double dip of closing tracks "Waves" and "Paralysis".
I've seen some criticism from certain factions of the band's fans that this album is too polished and changes what they loved about their sound too much. But it hardly screams of a band trying to score radio play at all costs. Instead, Mind Over Matter is Young The Giant reaching their potential with a knockout sophomore release.
Favorite tracks: "Mind Over Matter", "Crystallized", "Camera", "Teachers"
Mind Over Matter was released January 21st, 2014 via the Fueled By Ramen label.