‘Home of the Strange’ by Young The Giant Album Review: Indie Band Explores Roots In Meticulous Production
On Home of the Strange, Young the Giant‘s third studio album, the indie rock band delves into issues of division and exclusion. The California quintet, led by frontman Sameer Gadhia, embrace their identity as outsiders in the US and explore a new sound that is both hopeful and thought-provoking.
Home of the Strange starts off slow and picks up the pace as the record progresses. The first two singles released prior to the album coming out – opener “Amerika” and “Something to Believe In” – strike a familiar chord structure-wise, by relying on a catchy hook and building the track around it. But even here the sound is redefined, more subdued and deliberate. “Amerika,” named after the unfinished Kafka novel, swaps out the banging festival sound for a blend of Gadhia’s vocals and a wash of electronics.
It is “Elsewhere” that marks a significant shift both in Young the Giant’s stylistic approach and in their lyricism. They take their sound in a flattering new wave-inspired direction, while the lyrics are concerned with their roots and the political and personal implications of belonging to a minority identity. One of the more recent hits off the album “Titus Was Born” best show the band exploring a more mellow side to their musical style. They production, courtesy of Jeff Bhasker and Alex Salibian on the album, is clear and minimal and at the same time opens up with variety and new possibilities, embodying the new direction the band has taken.
The album ends with the title track. “Land of the free / Home of the strange / From shining sea to mountains gray… I crave your wonder / I shout your name… Let me live in the moment / Let freedom be,” Gadhia quips, as a reminder of the album’s political and personal purpose. The track evolves into a blazing rock jam as a celebration of the circumstances that bring us together despite our differences, such as music.
With Home of the Strange, Young the Giant finally make a claim for a spot in the big league of indie pop-rock music, dominated currently by the likes of Arcade Fire. Their former approach brought them merely mediocre recognition, but their music now is one that makes and argument.Young the Giant are making a statement about identity politics at a time when such stances are more crucial than ever and at the same time expanding the possibilities of their musical style. Home of the Strange is a solid pop-rock album that is Young the Giant’s most varied and imaginative project yet.