Young the Giant - welcome to Ears Like a Hawke. I've been wanting to give these guys a review since I first heard "Cough Syrup," and lucky me, they'll be at the Roo this year! Warning - the show overlaps with fun. and The Shins - it's going to be an extremely tough one this time around.
This has been a "band to watch" on so many lists, sites, magazines, and networks. They've lived the tough touring life, and have finally caught a break. Funny thing is that this album actually came out two years ago, so we'll cancel that "overnight fame" label and appreciate the sacrifices made just to have fun and tour.
"Apartment" kicks things off on this self-titled album. We come in with a very light guitar strum and heavy feel to the song, like there's a hard time we're getting a glimpse in to. Could be a heartbreak, or on-coming fight. The construction of the song is really interesting - the musical bridge before the song picks up almost sounds out of place, as do the small breaks - there's not a hugely unifying sound throughout, aside from the melodies of the verses themselves. The words are the draw-in though. There's a toughness to be experienced - the music breaks just give you a second to let the rest sink in.
Oh, finally, the song I think I needed to hear more than any other. "Cough Syrup." It's weird - this has a sound of a depressing number, but there's a lot to be uplifting here in the lyrics. It's got lines of making it through the hard times. There's an acknowledgement of the bad, but a realization that the struggle is worth it. You just have to wait for the medicine to go down and work its magic. If there were an easier way, you'd take it - but the journey is what makes the end worth it. Shit, I'm going to be back in tears if I keep doing this. Onwards.
"12 Fingers" has this much brighter sound to all of these words that are coming out and in the guitar. These lyrics really are good, but maybe that's just the state I'm in at this point. "Your heart beats just like I wanted it to, and you wanted it to." That's the hopeful optimist in me, which is grasping on to whatever's possible right now. Can I impart a little advice on you, readers, whoever you are? Give in when you think you shouldn't, when it comes to love. It's worse when you don't. Let your heart beat the way you want it to, no matter how wrong your head says it is. What the hell's going to be the worst that can happen?
Sometimes I let my person life dictate way too much of how i read a song. *shrug* Beauty of music and whatnot, I suppose.
"Strings" is not some beautiful combination of a quartet, as I thought it would be. It's a very sunshine inducing number though. There's a Kings of Leon - esq beach highway feel to it actually. There's a lot of lyrical elements of a breakup though, filled in with elements of misunderstanding and trying to show what he means. In fact, I think I caught some lines about riding in a chevy, and a sound of waves toward the end.
A good drum beat gets going for "Your Side." I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, because my stupid brain keeps checking in and out of listening, but I do know that as the song builds, there's more and more of this great rock sound. I am catching some decent lines - even if I don't know how they fit into the bigger picture of the song - "everybody knows I tried."
"Garands" picks things up in this almost pop-punk way. There's just something too happy about that guitar lead-in. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. The melody does about the same thing. I wish I had discovered this band as a teenager, because they may have added some positivity to my listening experiences as a kid, compared to the depressing shit I used to take in constantly. There's actually not much good feeling in this one, as he talks on what he's become through it all, and it doesn't all sound great. The sound, I think, is what's uplifting. As the drums rev up one more time, you can't help but feel your heartbeat quicken and feel that guitar to its fullest.
More drawn-out, western-ish guitar lines enter for "St. Walker." Kind of a completely different feel in this one compared to the rest. The vocals give off more of a longing sound to them, as the guitar moans just a little bit of sadness. Odd track when you think of all the rest, yet it's kind of great to hear something a little different.
"Islands" takes on a much more cosmic sound, sort of just floating on the air without much direction. There's nothing remotely island-like, unless you think in terms of "Lost," maybe. The previous song was a little different - this on is completely out of the mold of the rest of the album. It's low and dragging and difficult. It picks up eventually, thankfully, with these raw natural drum beats, almost like a circle, which is actually very cool to hear. Now, if it weren't for those first two minutes, it'd be a fantastic number.
Nice bass line, interesting concept, for "Guns Out." I do kind of love the line, "you'll drive in my car, just tell me we are going somewhere where the stars meet the sky." Insanely romantic notion, but it works. Fighting for something more is never a bad thing, at least in my head. The music is semi-hippie infused, with a touch of beach nostalgia. Good God, I don't really know what I'm saying anymore.
This whole back half of the album has definitely mellowed out a lot more than the first half. "Every Little Thing" has a toe-taping beat, but nothing you can loose yourself in enough, other than maybe the chorus, slightly. Even then, it's more of a stay-in-place losing, nothing enough to take over for a few minutes. The whole song has this odd trance-like quality to it, largely attributable to the echo of the voice.
Oh you wanted folk-ish harmonies? Because they've got that too. "Typhoon" is so much more vocals than anything else, even with a moving, easy flow in instruments through the background. It winds up being an impressive track for the band overall, showing some darker tones, while maintaining something interesting to hear and take in.
"Strings - Reprise" closes this one out. It's essentially the same song, stripped down to a piano and a voice, trying to understand. They pick the pace back up a little bit in, to close out in the same way we loved hearing - a bit of a party, with something to party for - a meaning, a realness.
Added to My Playlist:
- "My Body"
- "Cough Syrup"
- "God Made Man"
- "12 Fingers"
- "Strings - Reprise"