Release Date: Aug 12, 2016
Record label: Fueled By Ramen
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
On Home of the Strange, Young the Giant's third full-length effort, the Southern California quintet buffer their passionate indie rock with polished production, resulting in their funkiest offering to date. Here the band opt for pop sheen and impeccable production courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson) and Alex Salibian (Elle King, Mikky Ekko). The increased reliance on danceable beats and the layers of atmosphere mark Home of the Strange as the most exciting in their discography, if only because it offers more than a generic post-Coldplay arena rock sound.
With three studio albums behind them, Young the Giant have tightened every bolt, sealed every crack, and smoothed over every crease in their sound: a hyper-polished amalgam of lush stadium-ready anthemics and melancholic indie rock that fits squarely under the amorphous “modern rock” rubric. While distinctive, a guitar-veined wallop of muscle, heartache, and a strain of desperation just shy of all-out recklessness, this sound isn’t that far removed from what other Coldplay-citing rock outfits have landed upon. The Temper Trap, Kodaline, Holy Fire-era Foals, Tourist History-era Two Door Cinema Club—all possess a signature aesthetic that leans on the same arithmetical complex of vesuvian snare spurts, carefully modulated feedback, and direct, post-adolescent poetry; Young the Giant, for better and worse, possess this aesthetic as well, the pulverizing vocal talent of frontman Sameer Gadhia standing as their primary, if not only, sonic differentiator.
Orange County quintet Young the Giant is a modern-rock melting pot: Frontman Sameer Gadhia's parents are Indian immigrants, bassist Payam Doostzadeh is Persian-American and drummer Francois Comtois hails from Quebec. Though the group hasn't talked up their roots much before, nor gotten especially political, the band's third album comes at a time when hyphenated Americans are reminded daily of their status. The lyrics of Home of the Strange reflect that, taking a stance while yet referencing a complex, ongoing identity crisis.
ROCKS LIKE: Arctic Monkeys, Cold War Kids, Airborne Toxic Event WHAT’S DIFFERENT: It took three albums, but Young The Giant figured out how to dabble in genres without sacrificing their signature moves. Home Of The Strange adds back their debut’s indie charm, then catapults Sameer Gadhia’s sensational vocals to the front. Keeping those levels in check allows the band to effortlessly explore ambient electronics (“Amerika”), dance numbers (“Silvertongue”) and every other curiosity along the way.
Young the Giant has risen from the Southern California suburbs to become a full-on pop-rock force — the quintet has become a rock-radio darling, been given the “Glee” treatment, and wowed crowds at festivals, including the inaugural Boston Calling in 2013. On its third album, “Home of the Strange,” the band deals head-on with the experience of being outsiders in America — specifically, living in the United States while being from somewhere else. Opening with “Amerika,” which borrows its title and its central ideas of landing somewhere oddly familiar from the unfinished Franz Kafka novel, “Home of the Strange” is a sleek, catchy pop-rock record with undertones that seem accidentally political, thanks to lyrics that allude to outsiderdom.