Young the Giant exploded on to the scene in 2010 with their self-titled album featuring hits like “Cough Syrup” and “My Body.” Since then they have a steady musical output, including the phenomenal Mind Over Matter, that laughed at the idea of the band seeing a sophomore slump. The band’s last album, Home of the Strange, looked at the state of American politics and culture. The release of their 4th studio album Mirror Master signals a return to form, with more introspective lyrics and undeniably catchy tunes.
The album opens with the 4 previously released singles. “Superposition” let’s you know that the boys from Irvine, California still have their classic style saved in their back pocket. The ethereal vocals of lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, float over a plucky charango riff (I’ll admit, I had to Google to find the name of this funky 10 stringed member of the lute family). Following this opener, the alternative radio hit “Simplify” roars the album to life. The soaring sing-a-long chorus is an undeniably fun, and musically well balanced song.
“Call Me Back” drastically slows down the pace of the album, which will continue to stay at this pace for the next few songs. The song is very reminiscent of a song by the up and coming pop rock band Arizona. “Heat of the Summer” is a catchy song that doesn’t move around too much sonically, but still adds something important to the album. Sometimes the introspective and heavy lyrics of Young the Giant need a calm musical backdrop.
“Oblivion” is an amazing stand out guitar driven track. The dark lyrics “Nothing’s real/I really mean it/That’s the way I feel/You see right through it/Cause you’re just like me” set a haunting scene as the song breaks down to a psychedelic rock inspired ending. “Darkest Shade of Blue” follows as an attempt at a ballad that falls flat in a section of an album that already felt like it was dragging.
The song “Brother’s Keeper” showcases their ability to genre bend and is probably my favorite track in the album. It opens to moody pop beat, where the story telling vocals are only accompanied by a drum beat and bass line. As the chorus reaches a danceable groove it adds more layers of percussion along with bells. The chilling synth line that follows the chorus drops out to return to the familiar and infectious beat.
“Glory” slows the album back down, but improves on past songs of this nature by adding in a powerful string section. The lyrics are also very personal, touching on interactions his family and his relationship with God. The chorus opens with “When I close my eyes/I see I see the light/I be I be the light”. This song is in stark contrast to the funky “Tightrope” that follows it.
The final song, “Mirror Master”, serves as an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting tune. In an album that often dove as far as possible in the world of introspection, this track is a welcome surprise and great way to wrap up the album. Overall, Mirror Master doesn’t see Young the Giant stray too far from what has worked for them before, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The album holds a couple of fun pop-alt hits while also having the depth to be able to strip a song back to its bare bones. After an album that saw the gang bounce all over the map thematically and musically, it is nice to see them hone into what made them so enjoyable from the beginning.