What a Fool Believes: Young the Giant’s “Home of the Strange”

Creative Commons

“Home of the Strange” is Young the Giant’s third album, released this August.

John Kennedy

Young the Giant isn’t exactly on my radar. “Cough Syrup” is one of those entry-level indie rock songs that I hear with “Tongue Tied,” “Pumped Up Kicks,” and “Breezeblocks,” but until it was recommended to me, I hadn’t listened to their newest album. Young the Giant’s Home of the Strange is the story of what it means to be American, told by loosely connected songs looking at individuals. From Jack on “Mr. Know-It-All,” to Titus on his titular track “Titus Was Born,” Young the Giant uses the lives of young outsiders to create a vivid picture of modern life.

Unfortunately, Home of the Strange is too grandiose for its own good. While efforts like the titular track certainly sound the part with a defiant, Remain In Light-style tribal synth pattern, the shallow and vague lyrics ultimately come up flat. Take “Mr. Know-It-All.” It’s a pretty crappy story: Jack isn’t interesting, but he acts like he is. Jill is the same. They don’t talk. I guess the greater take-away is that people are inauthentic, but that’s not really a news flash.

With regards to the production, tracks like “Mr. Know-It-All” are honestly disconcerting musically, seeming to push the boundaries of what it means to stay on beat. I doubt this is on purpose – it’s just uncomfortable to listen to. But when Home hits, it really hits. “Art Exhibit” is a beautiful memory of a lover lost, and “Titus Was Born” is the Tarzan score in the style of Iron and Wine. It’s great, specifically “Art Exhibit.” The ukulele takes me interchangeably between Eisenhower exotica ala Arthur Lyman and a campfire storytale, while the production rises and falls in concordance with the love story that keeps our protagonist “on [his] back, on [his] back again.”

At its best, Home channels the dreams of our parents, the nostalgia of 50’s travel posters. But ultimately, it’s just too inconsistent.

Favorite Tracks: Something To Believe In, Titus Was Born, Art Exhibit

Least Favorite Tracks: Mr Know-It-All

Favorite Moment: First chorus on “Art Exhibit”

Rating: 4.8/10