Overall 3.5/5 “Great”*
Hey guys, this is my first review of an album ever so I need some feed back on it. I want to do this again sometime and I need to know what I can improve on.
Young the Giant is an indie rock band from Irvine, CA. At first listen to their self-titled debut, I wasn’t too pleased with the album as a whole. I thought “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” were catchy and all, but the rest of the album didn’t really satisfy me. I heard the album for a second time at a friend’s house while we were checking out the new iOS 6 update and it sounded better to me, but I quickly forgot of their existence. Then towards the end of April as I was riding back from a wedding with another friend, he was playing this album. I really started to dig it and listened to it immediately once I got home. I finally started to appreciate songs other than the singles.
I’ll go and get the “negative” part of the review out of the way. This album is pretty good, but it isn’t great by any means. To me the album is divided directly down the middle. The first half of the album is full of singles, the best of which is “Cough Syrup” followed closely by “I Got”. This part of the album seems to me as if it was written to attract a majority of it’s fans. It’s fun, catchy but missing the emotion I wish it had. The vocalist, Sameer, has a great voice and comes up with some nice vocal melodies but his voice seems to be missing the emotion I wish it had. As the album progresses into the second half, starting with “Strings”, I really become more fond of his style. It just seems to fit that part of the album better. I can listen to the first part of the album and not hate the band, but it’s far from me loving them.
At first the production of the album really bothered me. When the styles of music suits it, I’m all for having an extremely clean recording quality and everything being very audible in the mix. When I first started listening to this album I had been going through a phase where I liked the drums being the background to the rest of the instrumentation , which is weird since I am a drummer. Francois is an excellent drummer for Young the Giant and I could tell that from the beginning, it just irked me that his drums were as prevalent as they were. His drums have an excellent sound, but I feel like they’re carrying the band too much. I want to hear more guitar! The guitar parts on this album were the highlight of the instrumentation and I felt as if the drums’ level was lowered a little, the overall sound of the album would click a little better for me.
Now the second half of the album is where things started getting really interesting for me. The track placement from #7 through #12 is excellent. “Strings” has that oceanside feel to the entire song. I’ve never been to a beach before but I feel like I would know what it’s like to breathe the ocean breeze for the first time. The guitars really carry the chorus for me and complement the vocals so well. The bass lines in this song work well because he doesn’t move around too much. I really like good bass players that don’t have to move too much but also don’t stay in the box. The drums weren’t really too busy in this song and just worked great to top off the song.
“Your Side” is one of the strongest tracks on this album. The beginning guitar riff sounds slightly Radioheadesque to me and when everyone else comes in on their instruments, that really solidifies that belief. The verses are so powerful that they’re oozing Radiohead whether or not their an influence to the band or not. Thankfully Sameer isn’t trying to be Thom Yorke the entire time because the chorus wouldn’t be as great as it is. The chorus stands out from the rest of the song but not too much to make it flow weird. They did a great job on this track.
“Garands” is probably the weakest song of the second half of the album if you just had to pick one. This could have replaced “My Body” as a single if you ask me but there’s nothing too special about this song.
“St. Walker” may be my personal favorite track on this LP. The beginning is so mysterious and leaves you wondering where it’ll go but you’re always pleased no mater where it goes. This song is really drum driven without too much going on. The drum parts are simple and filled with some ghost notes but it’s never too busy to take the magic away from the vocals in this song. Excellent vocal performance in the chorus and probably THE catchiest chorus on this album.
All I need to say about “Islands” is that it contains the emotion in Sameer’s vocals that was missing most of the album. It almost reminds me of Dustin Kensrue’s performance on Thrice’s The Alchemy Index Vol. 2: Water. There needs to be more of this on their sophomore effort.
“Guns Out” was an excellent closer to the album. It still carries some of the emotion from “Islands” but picks up the tempo enough to be a good-enough closer. If it wasn’t for the falsettos in the prechorus and the drop for a majority of the chorus, this song could easily fit with the first half of the album.
Now, even though I gave this a 3.5 review, I do not think this is a great album. It has a lot of potential to me. They need to start evolving their sound now so they don’t lose their shimmer they’ve shown they can put into their songs. I think that they have the potential to be one of the best more mainstream indie rock bands without experimenting to much with a synth or electronics and I hope they stay that way.
*Review score based off of scale at www.sputnikmusic.com