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Album: New Name, No Problem
[ Issue 107 Page 13 ] Thursday, May 12, 2011, 01:33:54 Jae Young Byon jaebyon@kaist.ac.kr

Though any long-time fans are bound to be well aware of this, the band Young the Giant are no newcomers to the music scene. Releasing their eponymous debut album online late last year may have given off such impressions, but they are in fact the band that was formerly known as The Jakes who, after undergoing several changes to their lineup, have caught music fans’ attention with new name and songs.

   
▲ Detail from album cover of Young the Giant

Young the Giant is an album that features works both old and new, but always original and never disappointing. After my first listen through its entirety, I was somewhat disappointed by how short the album and its songs were, or so I believed until I realized that it had lasted an entire 50 minutes (the sort of lengthy playtime duration that has become something of a rarity these days). Simply put, I found both quality AND quantity in Young the Giant, and the bigger surprise was that it still seemed so short a dozen playbacks later; I can think of no other indicator of an album’s quality than that desire for more when the final song has been heard. Another factor that could indicate quality might be whether the songs get stuck in listeners’ heads for weeks, but horrible yet strangely catchy songs, most notably a particular “Friday,” sung by a particular monotonous teenager puts this argument’s credence to shame.

Though each and every listener will have personal favorites of his or her own, I felt that the album was particularly prominent in its first few songs and its finale. The first track, “Apartment,” is slow and mellow and while this pace is one that is mostly kept for much of the album, the mood is consistently changing from one song to the next, something that is done carefully so as to maintain both a sense of continuity and a balance to the album’s songs. Following this start, listeners are treated to the U.S. single “My Body,” in which guitarist Jacob Tilley lets loose his catchy guitar riffs while lead singer Sameer Gadhia replaces his often soft singing style in favor of a more appropriate and husky one that lends the track a greater sense of liveliness and energy. Another noteworthy song is “Cough Syrup,” a piece that was created during the band’s time as The Jakes, but one that still sounds so polished and fresh. Not fully satisfied with this previous work, Young the Giant made several changes in a fine-tuning process to further improve this already successful formula; the product is one that miraculously sounds more somber yet energetic. Young the Giant ends with “Guns Out,” a song that is in my opinion quite well-suited to its placement at the end of the album. This feel-good conclusion, with its ethereal, peaceful atmosphere brings listeners to a “happy ending” of sorts – a satisfying finale to what has been a very pleasant musical trip.

A band as young as this, however, is bound to have its flaws, whether big or small. The biggest criticism that can be placed on this album may be the lack of serious depth. The 12 songs boast continuity and progression, but fail to achieve such levels in terms of depth. It is even conceivable that the band’s efforts on certain aspects such as the lyrics and ambience are intended to make up for this one shortcoming. The clever words Gadhia sings and the variety of sounds each song provides the listeners appears to miss a certain crucial element - perhaps in the matching of lyrical profundity to audial progression, or maybe something else altogether - but whatever the problem may be, it is something that the band should look to address in their upcoming works.

Despite these shortcomings, Young the Giant is a band bursting with potential and one that any avid listener of music should keep an eye out for. With hectic schedules that have them touring in the US and Europe until late May when they will perform at the Sasquatch Music Festival, fans may have a while to wait before the band’s next release, but after this successful first album, we can all rest assured of the quality worth the anticipation with whatever comes next.

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