Review Summary: It’s not time to burn down Orange County yet.
To be honest, I refuse to acknowledge that Young the Giant are from Newport Beach. If I made a list of things worth hating in the world, bet your bottom dollar that just above dirty Torontonian air and soggy cereal would sit Orange County. Sure, it’s naive to assume after watching an episode of Laguna Beach
that everybody there is an uppity, orange-skinned valley girl with as much depth as a puddle but rest assured, once you’ve paid the area a visit, you’ll be clambering to get out. This is why it’s such an internal struggle for me to betray myself and tell you that Young the Giant’s debut album, despite coming from the yuckiest place in the USA, is probably the catchiest, most confident indie rock album you’ll hear this year. Sure, it might not have the sexy strings of Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard
, the warbly vocals of Frightened Rabbit’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks
or the oh-my-god-you’re-zooey-deschanel irresistibility of She & Him’s Volume Two
, but it has what each of these other albums wishes they could have in spades: lasting power. Not just flair and creativity; confidence
. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal; Young the Giant
is Orange County’s get-out-of-jail-free card for 2010 and I’ll personally award the band with it if I get to pretend they come from Canada.
Now if you have no idea who the hell Young the Giant are, let me be the first to tell you that they used to be a band called The Jakes. Now, because you still
have no idea who the hell Young the Giant are, let me tell you: they should’ve been on your radar a long time ago. They should’ve been a lot
of radars. See, Young the Giant wear their influences on their sleeves but never seem unoriginal or dishonest; they always sound like their own band. Take, for instance, the track ‘Garands’: it’s 60% Coldplay, 20% Kings of Leon and 20% Maroon 5 but at the very same time, it’s 100% Young the Giant. Weird, eh? Or how about a song like the amiable ‘Your Side’? It has a harmless, effective groove straight from the books of Ra Ra Riot but still sounds distinctly honest and personal. Don’t ask me how they do it, but Young the Giant never seem incapable of personalising and making their music their own out of pieces of the music they
love; Young the Giant
is an expression of the love for music the band has and their desire to reciprocate that love. So remember, it’s not a parasitic relationship; nobody’s getting ripped off: it’s mutualistic
And if you were one of the lucky few people who heard the band’s EP Shake My Hand
way back in 2008, you’ll be happy to hear that despite the (stupid) name change, nothing else has made a turn for the worse. The groovy drumming is still around, the catchy-as-hell melodies are in tact, the band unity is stronger than ever and Shake My Hand
’s token hit ‘Cough Syrup’ even pays a visit to Young the Giant
(this time, with cellos!
). And while it’s surely impressive how well the band gels together on tracks like slide-guitar opener ‘My Body’ and the poppy ‘I Got’, it’s hard to discredit vocalist Sameer Gadhia’s as the cog that keeps the machine running. What separates Young the Giant
from pop-in-2010’s best work is the fact that not only are they instrumentally solid, they also have a damn fine vocalist that keeps you utterly and entirely captivated. Whether he does that in his smooth falsetto in the ambient ‘Islands’, with his aggressive and infectious voice in ‘My Body’ or with his low and sexy vocal fry in the chorus of ‘Apartment’, Sameer Gadhia ropes in the listener with his deliberate melodies and makes the songs soar with his arena-ready choruses and bizarre inflection (where the hell is he from anyway?).
But in the end, let’s tally up the marks. Can one great Orange County indie rock album in 2010 negate an entire God-given year filled with unapologetically spoiled and promiscuous beach culture? You’d be hard-pressed to get me to answer “well, yeah
” without having made me listen to Young the Giant
. So, if you’re feeling graceful, guilty (depending on your location) or if you’re simply just in the mood to hear some absolutely bangin’, tightly knit, catchy indie rock because you love the hell out of music, Young the Giant
will probably serve you well. California finally wants to love you
. Let’s love it back.