Themes of identity and politics are slowly creeping into the music of 2016 yet nowhere is it more surprising to hear than in Young The Giant’s new album. The old adage is that you write what you know and that’s certainly what they seem to finally be doing, exploring their immigrant roots to melodies influenced by electronica and rock, influences they have never truly touched upon before. It’s refreshing to see a band reinvent themselves in such a way on their third album Home Of The Strange and, while it doesn’t always hit the mark, it makes you excited for what else they have to offer.
Amerika gently welcomes you into the album, initially sounding like a lullaby before the drums kick in and give it some much needed life. The hooks that have become part of the band’s signature sound creep in as vocalist Sameer Gadhia expresses his dismay at finding the American dream to be “a rich kid game”. Something To Believe In equally appeals to the disenchanted as a stomping percussion creates an anthem that doesn’t try to be uplifting. While this track utilises electronic elements, Jungle Youth is pure rock ‘n’ roll as confident vocals are matched perfectly by stomping drums and a sultry sounding guitar. However, the electronic influences are not forgotten as Nothing’s Over and Home Of The Strange use them to create a cinematic sound that constantly builds in tension and leaves you annoyed when they end.
For all the rights, there are quite a few wrongs. For a band singing about identity, there are times on the album where they seem to lose theirs, venturing into Chris Martin territory on Titus Was Born and Repeat. The very placement of these somewhat tired sounding tracks on an album that is truly inspired in parts is strange in itself. Mr Know It All is slightly cliche in its ‘be who you are’ philosophy and only the production on Elsewhere saves it from its oh so sickly lyrics.
However, this album is the first where Young The Giant are actually trying to be themselves and not a carbon copy of Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend, whose shadows they have lingered in for too long. So much of it is going in the right direction, they just need to be brave and take the plunge.
For fans of: Grouplove, Walk The Moon, Passion Pit
Words by Clara Duffy
‘Home Of The Strange’ by Young The Giant is out now on Fueled By Ramen.