3 out of 5 stars
By Dan MacKnight
I first heard Young the Giant on my 21st birthday, when they opened for Dispatch at TD Garden for Dispatch’s reunion tour. They were touring on their debut self-titled album, and their live show was on-point. I was hooked on their album. I enjoyed each individual song, and I couldn’t wait to hear what they came out with next. Well, about three years later (which felt like an eternity), they finally released Mind Over Matter.
The album starts off with “Slow Dive,” which is really just about 48 seconds of ambient tones that build up, ending abruptly and moving into “Anagram.” I like ambient tracks and all, but only when it flows well into the next song, rather than ending abruptly. It made me check the track listing to make sure that the album wasn’t on shuffle. Maybe they wanted to juxtapose those two songs next to each other though just to catch the listener’s attention again.
The first single off of the album is “Crystallized.” It sounds more like the old Young the Giant that we know and love. Classic, catchy pop melodies, and Sameer Gandhia belting out the chorus with his signature vibrato. He really is a fantastic singer, and I highly suggest catching them live.
“Mind Over Matter,” “Daydreamer” and “Firelight” are easily the three best songs on the album, in my opinion. “Mind Over Matter” has drummer Francois Comtois locked into a pretty funky groove, as the rest of the space is saturated by some mesmerizing synth tones. “Daydreamer” is an upbeat rocker, which then leads into “Firelight,” a beautiful, stripped-down slow number that really showcases Gandhia’s vocal abilities, over layers of noodly guitars and synth drenched in reverb.
The only other track that stuck out to me was “Teachers.” It is louder and faster than rest of the album, and has some pretty fun samples and effects thrown around in the song. “Waves” and “Paralysis” bring the album to a close. They are okay songs, but neither of them really stuck out to me as memorable.
Overall, I thought that Mind Over Matter was a decent sophomore album. I think I was a little disappointed because the three year wait after Young the Giant (which I still love) made me raise my expectations a little too high. I think the self-titled album was much more diverse, with the band trying to show off their wide range of talent, whereas Mind Over Matter tried to flow a little more, but it restricted the band’s musical direction, and that sense of restrain can kind of be felt while listening to the album. The band’s great songwriting and performing ability shine through on some songs, whereas other tracks are kind of forgettable. This is a great album to put on as background noise while doing other things, but if you were to put on headphones and critically listen to it, Mind Over Matter leaves you wanting just a little bit more.