Returning to the scene with a new take on the alternative sound for which fans know them, Young the Giant is back again with their newest album, Mirror Master. This album is the fourth full-length release of their career, and the first on their deal with Elektra Records. Mirror Master was released on Oct. 12 and follows up Home of the Strange, which was released back in August of 2016.
The 12-track LP begins with “Superposition,” a floaty tune that lets the band fit right in with today’s alternative crowd, akin to fellow indie rockers such as Foster the People and Grouplove. Plucked strings and layers of simple yet meaningful lyrics ensure a crowd pleaser that will undoubtedly see increasing radio play within the coming year.
“Simplify,” the album’s lead single which was released in June, is next with intricate guitar and synthesizer work as well as a masterful vocal performance. This song perfectly follows the formula of past hits such as “My Body” and “Something To Believe In,” a safe but solid musical choice overall.
“Call Me Back” introduces a chill, dreamy vibe to the album, though the song is nearly too repetitive for its own good.
The next track “Heat of the Summer” rescues the album with more creative synth work and a heavy bass line worthy of any car stereo. The relatable lyrics cover two summer activities popular with the indie fan base: insecurity and getting high.
“Oblivion” follows, making up for what it lacks in musicality with wise lyrics. The track again tackles stress and insecurity. It makes reference to dreams about one’s teeth falling out and being naked in public, two of the more common motifs that populate the dreams of those stressing over things they cannot control.
“A Dark Shade Of Blue” is next in line, and is comprised of nearly all synth. Ethereal vocals create a light and buzzy track that is mercifully short, as not to confuse the listener or put them to sleep.
“Brother’s Keeper” shares much of the same musicality, but adds a bass riff that slowly awakens the listener from the nap induced by the previous track. Increasing presence from the percussion as the song progresses helps keep the album moving.
“Glory” slows the album back down temporarily, but reestablishes tempo with swaying guitar lines and more staccato bass.
The next song, “Tightrope,” carries on, spraying the band’s typical alternative sound with flecks of funk and good, consistent, four-beat rock.
“Panoramic Girl” and “You + I” both return to the relative sound of the LP’s opening tracks, combining heartfelt lyrics with careful synth work and general alternative motion.
The title track “Mirror Master” closes the album with a new wave sound that echoes The Cure and The Smiths. The lyrics once again touch on insecurity and self-image, though in a much different and more positive light. Though it is the closer, “Mirror Master” is clearly the most confident tune on the album and sounds the newest, most definitely saving the album from mediocrity.
Mirror Master is a thorough and enjoyable album, but a very safe play for a band that is on the rise. Young the Giant may have hindered themselves by creating the hit that was Home of the Strange, but Mirror Master was a valiant follow-up attempt. The introspective lyrics about insecurity and self-image are a mature step in the band’s evolution, and there are flickers of musical innovation that hint that the band is nowhere close to retirement. While they are not the purveyors of a terribly unique sound, Young the Giant is one of the best at it and Mirror Master is audible proof.