Camila Zagarzazu ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Mind Over Matter is the second studio album by indie band Young The Giant. It was released January 21st, 2014 through the Fueled By Ramen record label and promoted by singles “It’s About Time” and “Crystallized.” Originally formed in 2004 in Irvine, CA, the alternative rock band’s line-up is Sameer Gadhia (lead vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar), Payam Doostzadeh (bass guitar), and François Comtois (drums). Released four years after their eponymous debut album, Mind Over Matter has thirteen tracks and starts off with “Slow Dive.”
This was a bold choice for the first song since it’s completely instrumental, lasts only 47 seconds, and gradually increases in power and volume until coming to an abrupt end. The next song, “Anagram,” has a cool and unique intro melody that continues to play throughout the song. It has an upbeat tempo, shows off Gadhia’s falsetto, has a catchy chorus, and is infused with what sounds like an electric harp. The third song, “It’s About Time,” is the album’s lead single. The song starts off with guitars and drums and has more of a rock feel to it than the others. It’s unique in the way that some of the lyrics are whispered and there are occasional guitar distortions.
Next comes the album’s second single, “Crystallized.” Surprisingly, it begins with a yell and has a great bass guitar accompaniment throughout. Sounding like a typical sing-along love melody type, it could easily be compared to the likes of song anthem geniuses like Coldplay. “Mind Over Matter,” the album’s title track, is next with its electric piano introduction. It has a strong and powerful chorus and Gadhia switches back and forth from soft to heavy vocals. The song nearly sounds like it could’ve come from another influential indie band, such as MGMT, due to its heavy usage of electric sounds.
“Daydreamer” sticks out from the rest of the songs due to its vocal variation. Unlike the other album tracks, deep vocals sing the verses and there’s an occasional echo effect of Gadhia’s voice. The catchy chorus begins with the line, “You’re a daydreamer, oh oh!” and there’s a heavy use of drums throughout. “Firelight” is the exact opposite, having an acoustic guitar picking introduction and slow, soft vocals. The chorus of the song is harmonized and the melody resembles a lullaby. Like many of the Mind Over Matter songs, “Firelight” ends with an unusually long amount of instrumental music.
“Camera” is unlike most songs on the album. First, it begins with the sound of a piano organ, an instrument that is not used again in the album. The beginning, middle, and end of this song sound very different, almost as if you had taken three YTG songs and blended them together. There’s a heavy use of static sounds and cymbals throughout, adding to the uniqueness of this song. The cries of “hey hey hey!” start off the next track “In My Home”. Very upbeat, it is filled with the sounds of drums and electric guitars, and slowly ends with the fading sound of guitar picking.
“Eros” is one of the few songs on the album that, like “It’s About Time,” has more of a rock feel to it. With electric guitar solos and whammy usage, it deviates from the songs listeners are normally used to hearing from Young The Giant. Like many others in the album, this song also ends with an instrumental play out. “Teachers” is by far the most distinctive song of all. With its use of voice distortion, Gadhia’s rock vocals, and lots of yelling, this is the most aggressive (in a YTG way) song we’ve heard from the band.
“Waves” serves as the perfect example of the types of songs found in Mind Over Matter – It has both an instrumental play out and sounds like a combination of two or more songs. With its fun electric guitar picking introduction, “Waves” is probably the mellowest song of the album, and gives Gadhia’s another chance to showcase his falsetto. Last but not least is “Paralysis.” Faster paced than the other songs, it’s rich in percussion use, including cowbells and agogos. The line “paralyzed on the floor” is repeated over and over, making this song the most somber one of the album.
Mind Over Matter is receiving overall positive reviews from both fans and music critics alike. Many had long been awaiting the band’s second album, which was released after a four-year musical gap from the first. Although highly anticipated and generally well received, it raises a critical doubt, and many feel the album did not fulfill the purpose the band wanted to achieve. Mind Over Matter is a breath of fresh air with its wide range and variety of songs. However, the fact that the tracks aren’t consistent throughout supports the question that many people have been asking—has Young The Giant really found their sound yet?