When their self titled album came out in 2011, Young the Giant graced us with sprightly indie-rock singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup”. The songs were memorable, with fuzzy guitars and loud vibrato choruses. Also, the bass line was notably impressive and made girls want to dance on a beach. This month Young the Giant comes out with the new effort, Home of the Strange. After all is said and done, this album produces a sluggish resemblance of AWOL Nation and Justin Timberlake.
The album starts off in (sort of) the right direction with “Amerika”. Frontman Sameer Gadhia uses most of his vibrato skill to compensate for the single’s blurred lines. Between pop chorus and distorted, low frequency bass-line verses, one experience was enough. Jumping to track 2 was more hopeful. The ‘hoo ha’ opening chants of “Something to Believe In” are unnecessary except for maybe in a live performance. The song sounds like it’s supposed to have a clanging intro and, all of the sudden, it awkwardly chimes down to turtle-paced rhythm. The lyrics reveal a concentrated vibe of “Realize you’re a slave to your mind/ Break free/Give me something to believe in.” Let’s just say I tried to be excited.
After the second track, the album takes a disappointing downward slope. “Jungle Youth” can’t be taken seriously because of the wild man screams in the background. This one reminds me of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”. Even though the two songs don’t have many similarities, I regrettably would rather here the original crazed song with the word “Jungle” in it than listen to this track again. It’s weird and obnoxious, and never really goes anywhere exciting or creative. The continuation of the album is the same. In places you can tell the band strives for a catchy raw flavor. Tunes like “Titus was Born” and “Repeat” both have earthy feels. Unfortunately, they too have many flaws and do not flow the way that I anticipated. I feel like the band just pressed for too much in this album, reaching deep into their pockets for some off-kilter chord progressions. Wanting to make too much happen can often subtract from the wonder of your talents. That’s the way I feel about Young the Giant.
I don’t understand why artists sing about these kinds of emotions with such little substance to back it up. Lyrically, the songs show promise but the chord arrangements and production bring everything to a halt. And I mean everything. Probably the last glimpse of hope is the philosophic “Nothing’s Over”. After a few bars of melodic string picking, the song takes off with weird murmurs and never comes back to the light.
Home of the Strange lacks a correlating touch. It left me scratching my head early and often. The band confuses me now more than ever. I could never tell if these guys were just trying to sound cool with the unorthodox atmosphere. It definitely wasn’t panning out. Nothing overwhelmingly dramatic has happened to Young the Giant that would compel them to make music like this. But if you are looking to criticize anyone, perhaps producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen deserves the bag of shame. He worked with M83, Beck and Nine Inch Nails. Those are credible artists! Still, the band hasn’t lost or added any members since 2009. So, their chemistry should be right on par to highly surpass this level of craftsmanship. There is no excuse. Better luck next time.
Indie Rock | Fueled By Ramen