On Oct. 12, alternative rock band Young the Giant released their fourth album, “Mirror Master.” The quintet has been releasing singles off this album since June, increasing the anticipation after their previous album, “Home of the Strange,” was number 12 on the US Billboard 200 in 2016. The wait of over two years for another Young the Giant album was well worth it and really ties the story of the band and the story of their music together.
Young the Giant released their debut self-titled album back in 2010 and have been releasing music and performing in iconic venues ever since. Currently, the band has Sameer Gadhia as lead vocals, Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata on guitar, Payam Doostzadeh on bass guitar and Francois Comtois on drums. When the quintet first started as Young the Giant, they were 19 to 20 years old. In the many years they have spent together, they have grown and matured as a group and as individuals. In fact, three of the members (Gadhia, Tilley and Doostzadeh) got married within the last year or so. With plenty of new milestones together as a band and separately as people, this new album encompasses the feelings of becoming more mature and taking control of your life.
“...[This] record in a lot of ways is very reflective...for an internal search of a person. You look at yourself in the mirror every day and you see a different version of yourself. You’re not just this static thing. You encompass everything,” Gadhia explained in an interview with Billboard. “In order to make any change in the world, you need to be okay with yourself first and all those different characters of who you are. You see everyone putting their best foot forward on their socials and look like a different version of themselves, [but] that’s just one dimension of who they are. In reality, all of us harbor anxiety, sadness [and] depression. We want to embrace all sides of who every person is and be vulnerable in that. You are master of your own image.”
The album thesis, which is posted on the Young the Giant website, is as follows:
"Look in the mirror. What do you see? A familiar figure; a stranger; a monster? What we forget to realize is that the image that reflects is just an illusion. Like the world, we are made up of fictions of things people tell us. How we should dress, what we should believe in, what type of stock to invest in, how we should vote. What is our free will, if we trudge across tracks already traveled? If there is nothing else we control; nothing else new, we are at least in control of ourselves; can make our paths novel and undefined; shatter categories, stereotypes, and roles. Do what we want to do, think freely and not how others tell us to—live beneath the surface of things. Now look at the mirror again. What do you see? Only you are the master of what comes next.”
As a whole, the album does not flow together, like “Mind Over Matter.” Rather, it takes one theme and applies it in different ways for each song to tie into the overarching message, like their last album, “Home of the Strange,” which focused on conflicting identity in the place someone calls home and was released amidst some of America’s biggest political uproar. The album itself still carries the usual Young the Giant sound, the kind of alternative rock that can make someone think about summer drives down the highway in the warmth of the sun or cold nights staring up at the stars alone. There are 12 tracks on the album and they bounce between slow mellow instrumentals with relaxed vocals and upbeat tempos with strong, bold vocals that many Young the Giant fans adore about Gadhia.
The standout of the album, “Oblivion,” utilizes the slower tempo and steady, mellow vocals to reaffirm the message of the song, which focuses on those moments of fear and oblivion that define someone as a person. Gadhia said in his interview that the takeaway from this song is about being comfortable with vulnerability. His vocals stay in a generally minor key and remain calm and soothing through the whole song.
“That is the pure oblivion right there. I wanted that part to go on forever. I wanted to be able to continuously play that over and over,” Gadhia said regarding the instrumental during the second part of the song. “That is pure cacophony after you listen to it enough times, and it kind of becomes in itself calming, even though it is so chaotic.”
The song “Tightrope” is a great example of Young the Giant’s lyrical genius at work. The more upbeat, almost groovy instrumentals keep the song light, despite its being one of the deeper songs on the album. It has one of the best lines in the album: “I don’t know how I ended up so close to where I started / I went to war for peace of mind, what was it for?”
Other notable songs from the album include “Simplify,” “Superposition” and “Glory.” “Simplify” is more upbeat and has a much more happy-go-lucky vibe to it. The song focuses on the way love can bring the chaos of the world to a standstill. “Superposition” and “Glory” are more chill and mellow. “Superposition” focuses on the pull of love in terms of physics, using the idea of the forces of collision and attraction. “Glory” looks at the paradox people create for themselves when they contradict themselves in their own eyes and the eyes of others.
All of the tracks add a new perspective to the message of the album: internal conflict. While there is a general focus on the need for independence in terms of self-growth and sorting out inner battles, it also addresses the ease that support and love can bring to that journey. It goes without saying that everyone has their own demons and struggles, but Young the Giant did a great job creating music that everyone can relate to in one way or another. “Mirror Master” is an album curated to make people feel like they are not alone in strife. “Mirror Master” is music for the mind.
Armana Islam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at email@example.com.