Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter

written by: January 21, 2014
Album-art-for-Mind-Over-Matter-by-Young-the-Giant Release Date: January 21, 2014


With its sophomore album, Mind Over Matter, Southern California indie rock band Young the Giant has come a long way since its hit single, “My Body,” was featured in a Michelob Ultra commercial.

Singer Sameer Gadhia, guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata, bassist Payam Doostzadeh, and drummer François Comtois are at it again with the follow-up to their 2010 eponymous album.

Mind Over Matter isn’t just 13 slightly altered versions of the group’s other chart-chopper, “Cough Syrup,” but a matured, orchestral variation on its nuanced, anthemic indie rock theme.

Producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s influence is evident in Mind Over Matter, which often takes on an atmospheric, synthesized sound reminiscent of M83. The dramatic, instrumental opening track, “Slow Dive,” sounds like it was cut out of a film score, and immediately gives the impression that this is a better, smarter Young the Giant.

The diverse album demonstrates the group’s range, including everything from songs that sound like lullabies (“Firelight”), to bitter rock (“It’s About Time”), to fun and dancey tracks (“Eros”), to pure, unadulterated pop rock.

If any tracks reach the height of “My Body”‘s popularity, it’ll probably be the infectious single “Crystallized.”

Gadhia’s penetrating vocals call, “When the beat of my drum meets the beat of your heart, you know I couldn’t love any other, any other” with the passion of a lyrical Marlon Brando shouting, “Stella!” Synth-pop mingles with Young the Giant’s mainstay indie rock sound to create a track that is dying to be hummed all day. The songs remain anthems, but on Mind Over Matter, they’re personal as opposed to stadium-sized.

While title track “Mind Over Matter” has been released with a lyric video featuring live-painted watercolor cameos, it’s definitely only indicative that the best music comes on the rest of the album.

Standout “Firelight” is a simple, beautiful campfire song that soothes with harmonic guitar picking and subtle vocals. Ethereal and dancey album closer “Paralysis” is in the running with “Crystallized” thanks to its floating, choral quality and addictive beat.

This deeply personal album highlights the band’s struggle with self-doubt, with lyricism that has a poetic, literary quality. The title track’s chorus rings with the insecure but hopeful line, “And if the world don’t break, I’ll be shakin’ it/’Cause I’m a young man after all!/And when the seasons change, will you stand by me?”

Gadhia told Rolling Stone, “Collectively as a band, the record does tell the story of us trying to hone in on ourselves… But individually, I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of being able to battle their own selves–their doubts, the obsessions that they have, the idiosyncrasies they have, the things that they do to run away or get away from.” Each track is evocative of this personal theme.

Mind Over Matter is not a rehash of what Young the Giant did very well with its first release. The band has taken a complex, heartfelt leap of faith with this work, and its work has paid off with this wide-ranging beauty of a sophomore album.

Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter tracklist:

  1. “Slow Dive”
  2. “Anagram”
  3. “It’s About Time”
  4. “Crystallized”
  5. “Mind Over Matter”
  6. “Day Dreamer”
  7. “Firelight”
  8. “Camera”
  9. “In My Home”
  10. “Eros”
  11. “Teachers”
  12. “Waves”
  13. “Paralysis”