ALBUM REVIEW: Young The Giant Evolve Their Sound on 'Home of the Strange'
    • MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2016

    • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

    RATING: 3.5/5 STARS

    Although Young The Giant have always suffered from an identity crisis, they're arguably one of the most underrated bands. They came out with their self-titled debut album in 2011 which featured break-out singles, "Apartment," "My Body," and "Cough Syrup," which were all pretty much straight-forward rock songs. They followed up with their sophomore album, "Mind Over Matter" in 2014, which was more synth-heavy, featuring big singles doused in reverb, like the title track and "Crystallized." After these first two albums, we were left wondering, where are they going to go next? Now, they've -- sort of -- answered our question with their third official studio album, Home of the Strange, which takes us back to their roots and explores the giant melting pot that is the Orange County band.

    The record starts off with two singles the band quietly released earlier this year, the dreamy "Amerika" and the low key anthem "Something To Believe In." "Your palace / All the friends you own / So jealous / Felt that rich kid pain what it is to be alone," singer Sameer Gadhia sings about being left out of the rich kid game on "Amerika." Filled with layers of synths and keys, the band starts to find their groove in the third track "Elsewhere." Dynamic vocals sing, "The child in me is elsewhere on the dance floor," Gadhia admits he's afraid to grow up and commit.

    There are some songs that leave us feeling a little confused and torn. The Royal Canoe-esque "Mr. Know-It-All," has potential to be strong, but the lyrics are, for lack of better words, a little corny, and leave us feeling on the fence. "Silvertongue" is nothing we haven't heard before -- a repetitive pop/rock song that, once again, shows the band might be a little lost.

    Some highlights include "Art Exhibit," "Titus Was Born," "Repeat," and "Nothing's Over." "Art Exhibit" features a ukulele, some sort of acoustic beat, and swirling picked guitars, similar to Grizzly Bear. The second half of "Titus Was Born" features a new voice, although unsure of who it is (assuming another band member), it complements the rain-soaked song tremendously. The second half specifically could pass for something written by Local Natives with its light-yet-dramatic, west coast-tinged mood. The second to last song on the album, "Nothing's Over," starts off slow and dark before it quickly turns into a tight groove fit for a dance floor. "Nothing's over / I'll grow up when I'm older," the carefree lyrics about staying young go hand-in-hand with the percussive chorus.

    Overall, it's evident that the band is trying. Their sound, although confused at times, appears to be growing. Going from a straight indie-rock debut, to swirling synths, to even bigger swirling synths the third time around shows that they intend to evolve their sound and they are succeeding. They pay close attention to detail, filling up every sonic space. A truly dynamic, underrated band that we should be talking about more often.

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