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Age is Just a Number: Young the Giant produce a mature sophomore album

By Kathleen McWilliams
On January 29, 2014

Young the Giant's success has been a long ascent. Formed in 2004 in Irvine, Ca. it took six years for the quartet to release its eponymous debut album in 2010. However slow and steady does win the race and Young the Giant's carefully cultivated sound is an impressive feat of thorough and thoughtful musicianship that manifests itself on their second album, "Mind over Matter."
From the opening track "Slow Dive," a 48-second swan dive into a near perfect album, Young the Giant come back in full artistic force. "Slow Dive" is a rising sound that preps the listener for the almost cinematic arrival of second track, "Anagram." Like Jay Z's "No Church in the Wild" it builds the album up to grand proportions and lets the rest come naturally.
"Anagram," by all accounts is the first track of the album and it opens the album in such a relaxed way that it feels like doors are opened across the world. Starting with banter between some woody percussion instruments, the song gradually builds to an intricate melody. Utilizing strings, tambourine, and the usual guitars, the song is feel good and immensely uplifting. In fact, it almost reminded me of early Vampire Weekend, as it used some of the same aesthetics of quietly building a song into a jaunty anthem.
"It's About Time" is the third track on the album and unlike its predecessor, "Anagram," it's heavier on the ears. The bass is turned up and the guitar melody takes on a more aggressive feel which I attribute to the frustration in saying "It's About Time." Even Sameer Gadhia's vocals are throatier and rougher. "It's About Time" is a unique wrench in the smoothness of the rest of the album, but it struck the listener, not as uncharacteristic, but as inventive.
"Crystallized" is the fourth track and returns to the smoothness Young the Giant is known for. This track, however, has a lot more lyrical depth than the previously mentioned tracks. Much like Portland based band, The Shins, Young the Giant has cultivated lyrics that are cryptic, but easy enough to relate to that listeners aren't alienated. In "Crystallized" they use poetic language to essentially question if someone who has gone too far astray can reintegrate into their past life. Writing "Crawl back to life/ it's been far too long/Crystallized/Round interstellar Moons/Seed of light into your atmosphere/ What's your world like? Is the house we've built still there?" perfectly captures the feelings during the return of a prodigal.
Title track, "Mind over Matter," is another diamond in the rough. Gadhia's vocals deepen and roughen again in an almost reverent way. The song implores a woman to stay with the seasons in a tragically romantic genre that Dave Loggins introduced in the 70s with "Please Come to Boston." Okay maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but Young the Giant tackles the concept of begging a woman to stay with a fresh take in "Mind Over Matter."
I could go through each track of the album and praise each note, but I'll end by saying that this 13 track album is a masterpiece. For fans who complained that it took four years for another album, you'll be happy it took so long. The sound is unique, but also well thought out and consistently impressive.

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