Young the Giant Goes Uptempo After a Bout of Writer's Block
When you listen to Mind Over Matter, the new album from Young the Giant, it is impossible not to notice the different energy coursing through the band's collective vein. With his throaty cries, frontman Sameer Gadhia sounds as if he's expelling personal demons, and Mind undeniably is more propulsive than the band's 2010 breakthrough self-titled album.
Courtesy Photo Young the Giant
As guitarist Eric Cannata notes, much can be attributed to a watershed moment Young the Giant had early in the recording process, when writer's block and the pressure of trying to deliver a solid sophomore release weighed heavily on the band's shoulders.
"We felt some pressure to reconnect with these fans we'd made after touring so long on the first album, and we got to a point where we had maybe a month or two of writer's block," Cannata says. "I think, one day, we just woke up and decided we were going to try something different and try to step outside our comfort zones and experiment with sounds. We wrote the title track, and from that point on, we felt that we were limitless in what we could do with our sound."
The comparatively down-tempo rock strains of the band's debut are largely absent on Mind. The jangly rock of "Anagram" will have you dancing in circles in no time, "Daydreamer" is a soaring pop rock track that sounds like a distant cousin of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle," and the driving rock 'n' roll of "In My Hope" is an unstoppable force. There are moments when the band slows things down to give the listener time to breathe ("Firelight"), but the musical emphasis is one of pushing forward rather than becoming stagnant.
It's appropriate, given the psychological implications of the album's title, and noteworthy, given the record's content. There is a consistent narrative thread about the tension between paralysis and freedom and between inaction and action, so the music often acts as an accompaniment to whatever vocal or lyrical encouragement Gadhia is giving. But as much as the album is the result of the band's creative processes, it is more universally relatable than any sort of diary.
"The album touches on the idea that everybody has expectations in life; it's not just people going in to record a second album," Cannata says. "Everyone has obstacles that they put in front of them, and sometimes those obstacles can make you feel paralyzed and helpless, and the album in that sense is dynamic lyrically because certain songs talk about that paralysis."