On their hotly anticipated sophomore album, Mind Over Matter, Orange County modern rockers Young the Giant skate even closer toward the big-budget glitz their 2011 debut promised. Propelled by the success of their breakout hit, "Cough Syrup," they've made the jump to Warner subsidiary Fueled by Ramen, home to acts like Panic! At the Disco and Paramore, a seemingly more relatable roster than at their former home, the metal-centric Roadrunner Records. For Mind Over Matter, producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen has amped up the group's chiming, angular riffs and compressed the shimmering synths to present an able, straightforward modern indie rock record. Songs like the lead single "It's About Time" and "In My Home" aim to please by generally rocking hard and emoting enthusiastically, though they often struggle to really make an impact. The music is well played and the songs dynamic, but the type of mainstream guitar/synth rock Young the Giant pursue is littered with similar acts, making it tough to rise above the din. Comparisons to stadium-filling bands like Coldplay and Phoenix are not out of line, but there is a general lack of distinction to much of the music on Mind Over Matter, suggesting that the band still hasn't discovered its defining characteristics. On the neon synth-soul of the album's title cut, frontman Sameer Gadhia sings of being "a young man after all," so perhaps Young the Giant's most unique ideas are still in front of them. The band is at its best on some of the album's lighter cuts. "Firelight" pairs a beautifully haunting melody over a subtle blend of fingerpicked electric guitars and the glimmering midtempo pop of "Waves" glows with melody and charm. They've found a capable formula that will appeal to many, but some more personality would go a long way to seal the deal.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger