Article by Andrés Alvarado
Sometimes looking inward can be a struggle one tries to avoid. Rightfully so, at times, we can often find ourselves with dark thoughts within dark places and not even open our eyes. If you are lucky, your reflective view can be pleasant and calming. Then there is a third option: Whatever you find, you embrace and run with it. Spread across the plane of this option is where we find Young the Giant and their fourth studio record, Mirror Master. On the California-based quintet’s latest LP, the message is a rather clear one — Look into the muddiness that makes up our subconscious, our doubts, our fears, and simply explore.
For the latest run, Sameer Gadhia and company rifle off 12 tracks across roughly 45 minutes of alt-rock easy-going numbers with a splash of soul-lifting pop-esque bangers here and there. The formula seems simple and ambitious enough, journey into lyrically profound depths and attach it to somewhat sugary hooks. The result? — Not awful, nonetheless, not great. Mirror Master, in a nutshell, is a smidgen above average.
Mirror Master does implement a relatively good amount of highlights. The deliciously eclectic “Superposition” spearheads the new record. Armed with an Indian-Asian nuanced harmony, Gadhia’s tonality on “Superposition” is entrancing and his song message — though beautifully inconclusive — is concisely sang to the overall reasoning tied to the unknown elements of love. A beautiful melody. Young the Giant at their Mirror Master best.
Rounding off the Mirror Master heavy artillery are the peppy happy-go-lucky trifecta of “Heat of the Summer,” “Tightrope,” and record namesake “Mirror Master.” Joining the party are also the gentle draws of “You + I,” the ominously intriguing shades of “Glory,” and the trait of decelerated underground electronica provided by “Brother’s Keeper.”
Among the Mirror Master drawbacks are the overall sense of complacency tracks like “Darkest Shade of Blue” or “Oblivion” exude. By no means are these terrible songs, just excellently lazy for a band of Young the Giant’s gravitas. At moments, Mirror Master seems to lose its oomph and, in turn, lose the attention of its listener. Basically speaking, at certain junctures, Mirror Master runs diluted in comparison to past Young the Giant efforts.
All said and done, Mirror Master does possess enough clout to keep fans interested and in tune. Nonetheless, the effort is a step down from 2016’s Home of the Strange and that’s okay. For the most part, Sameer Gadhia’s vocal work is masterful and lovely, soothingly rich, and with a message to deliver. This is a deeply analytical and introspective album. Sometimes we don’t like what we find. Other times, we run with it and make lemonade out of lemons. Cheers!
Score: 7/10 — Key Tracks: “Superposition,” “Tightrope,” “Heat of the Summer,” “Brother’s Keeper,” and “Glory.”