On their latest studio album, Home of the Strange, Irving, California indie rock band Young the Giant provide a largely disappointing set of halfhearted R&B influenced tracks. Other than the funky, ready-for-radio “Silvertongue”, which shows up during the record’s final third, the only other standout moments on the album occur on the record’s first half. The album kicks off with “Amerika”, a mid-tempo opener that has a pleasant synth line which builds to include elegantly strummed acoustic guitar and glockenspiel around Sameer Gadhia’s ever-escalating vocals. Additionally, “Mr. Know It All” is a fun number that uses a clever lyrical narrative to tell a story that takes aim at poseurs who pretend to be something they’re not.
Aside from the aforementioned moments, the opportunities for greatness are largely squandered on many of the remaining tracks. The sexy dance groove of “Elsewhere” provides ample time for funk-infused breakdowns, but what’s delivered instead is a paltry piano solo amidst same-sounding drum fills. The hard-hitting “Jungle Youth” has a promising beginning, but ends up shooting itself in the foot by burying soulful backing vocals so deeply in the mix during the song’s choruses that they may as well have been left out entirely. “Nothing’s Over” starts interestingly enough with Gadhia’s vocals accompanied only by a grouchy synth and finger snaps, but then suffers during its woefully repeated, lackadaisical, uninspired chorus that has Sameer mournfully moaning, “It’s over, nothing’s over, I’ll grow up when I’m older, God only knows what I would do to you.”
All too often, Young the Giant’s third full-length finds the group sacrificing complex, engaging instrumentation and writing for studio gimmickry and overly simplistic song structures. The result is a mostly uninteresting record that has frontman Sameer Gadhia’s elegant croon and exquisite range working overtime in an attempt to carry this tepid, mundane collection. It’s an unfair burden, one that leaves few highlights amongst tracks that more often than not miss the mark by opting for safe, predictable patterns as opposed to challenging compositional choices that would have made for a more compelling release.