By Dana Getz
Updated August 11, 2016 at 07:43 PM EDT
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Credit: Lauren Dukoff

Young the Giant

type
  • Music

Young the Giant came of age in the midst of a major crossover moment for indie rock. By the time they unleashed their self-titled debut in 2010, Arcade Fire had already unveiled their soon-to-be Grammy-winning The Suburbs, and Vampire Weekend had gone No. 1 with their second album Contra. In comparison, the California quintet’s music felt relatively stale, squeaking by with the sort of perfunctory, built-for-radio alt-pop that’s enjoyable enough to keep in rotation but far too textbook to stake new ground.

On their third record, Home of the Strange, the group ascends from the third-tier trenches that waylaid their early career, dishing out their richest and most varied project to date. Whereas Mind Over Matter — their second effort — often suffocated beneath souped up production, Home of the Strange lets Young the Giant breathe deep. They’ve dialed back their soundscapes to a more palatable 10-point scale, pivoting singer Sameer Gadhia’s thick-as-molasses midrange to center stage. It’s a spotlight he commands well, hissing through the revved up, pissed off blues of “Jungle Youth,” flitting over the saccharine lilt of “Titus Was Born,” and sashaying across the conga throb of “Nothing’s Over.”

Openers “Amerika” and “Something To Believe In” hit closest to the hook-oriented standards that comprised their previous work, but even those gleam like newly polished pennies, trading blown out vocals and percussive bombast for refined-yet-resonant fizz. “I’ll give you something to believe in,” Gadhia sneers on the second track, almost pointedly taunting his detractors.

To be sure, Home of the Strange is not without its missteps. Songs like “Mr. Know It All” and “Silvertongue” revert to well-trod paths, while the title track is more try-hard than trailblazing. Still, it’s refreshing to see Young the Giant flex their creative muscle; they may still be painting by numbers, but at least they’re coloring outside the lines.

Young the Giant

type
  • Music

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