Young the Giant

Young the Giant

DateFebruary 2, 2019

Starts8:00pm

VenueThe NorVa

Location317 Monticello Avenue Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Sameer Gadhia (vocals) – Jacob Tilley (guitar) – Eric Cannata (guitar/vocals) –  Payam Doostzadeh (bass) – Francois Comtois (drums/vocals) 

The fourth album from Young the Giant, Mirror Master is a layered meditation on  identity in modern life, an emotionally charged look at the dangers of illusion and  possibilities of freedom. “Within one single day, we’re all so many different  people,” says Gadhia, lead vocalist for the L.A.-based band. “Especially with the use  of social media, we’re not just living in the now—we’re living on several different  timelines simultaneously. At a time when everyone wants to put each other in a  box—culturally, socially, musically—we wanted to show that there are a multitude  of reflections inside everything. We don’t have to be a certain thing; we can  contradict ourselves and show all these different sides of who we are.” 

Mirror Master arrives as a continuation of Young the Giant’s Home of the Strange , a  2016 album that found the band members shedding light on their shared  experience as immigrants or first-generation Americans. But in a departure from  the externally focused Home of the Strange —an album written entirely before  Donald Trump emerged as a presidential candidate—Mirror Master shifts  perspective and joins in the post-election reckoning faced by so many Americans.  With the influx of social media use and public attention to cultural issues in the  country, people have been forced to see how their actions, both good and bad, are  reflected. “This record takes a lot of the concepts we explored on the last album but  plunges them inward,” notes Gadhia. “It’s about being okay with yourself,  especially in light of what’s happened in the world in the last two years, and  realizing that there’s something beyond that duality of right and left, black and  white. The space in-between is infinite.” 

In bringing Mirror Master to life, Young the Giant applied that sense of openness  and imagination to every aspect of the creative process. Working with producers  like John Hill (Santigold, Florence + the Machine), Alex Salibian (who worked on  Home of the Strange), and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, the band purposely  upended songwriting formula and took an intuitive approach to constructing each  track, always emphasizing substance over style. “With production you can dress up  a song however you want, so we made a point of not using that as a crutch,” says  Gadhia. “Instead of thinking about the tonality so much, we just focused on what  we wanted to say within the song.” 

Proving their instinctive ingenuity, Young the Giant ultimately created a genre-defying and dynamic album, one that transforms the complexity of its  themes into music with a mesmerizing quality. Right from the opening track “Superposition,” Mirror Master proves untethered to the mundane, its ethereal  textures merging with lyrics that capture the cosmic destiny of a life-altering  romance (e.g., “In any universe you are my dark star”). Then, on “Simplify,” Young  the Giant switch gears to offer up an anthem built on bold and buzzing guitar riffs. “The idea of ‘Simplify’ is that while there’s so much to deal with in this world, so  much sensory overload at every moment, being able to connect with someone you  love at the end of day can make everything so simple,” says Gadhia. 

Themes of love and connection imbue many songs on Mirror Master , including “Call Me Back” (a nostalgia-soaked track that conjures teenage longing in its  dreamy guitar lines) and “You + I” (on which Gadhia expresses lovestruck  fascination in lyrics like “I wanna know why you hide in your hair/Where do you  go when you glide down the stairs?”). But on “Heat of the Summer,” Young the  Giant push into darker terrain, an element brilliantly contrasted by bright guitar  tones and high-powered rhythms. “On first listen it might feel like a summer song,  but the lyrics look at dealing with depression and trying to find the control that  once helped you get through the day,” says Gadhia. “It’s so common to see  someone who seems happy and like they’ve got their whole lives together, when  really they feel lost and alone.” From there, Young the Giant flip the script with “Oblivion,” a track whose moody urgency belies the serene acceptance at the heart  of the lyrics. “That song came from thinking about how the idea of oblivion or  nothingness doesn’t have to be negative, if you don’t attach so much weight to it,”  says Gadhia. “It’s about coming to peace with the inevitability of oblivion, and  feeling some sort of hope for togetherness.” 

On the glorious title track, Young the Giant close out Mirror Master with an  emphatic message of self-reliance. Inspired in part by Italo Calvino’s experimental  novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler , “Mirror Master” surges forward with limitless  energy and a litany of edifying lyrics (“And when you hit disaster/The answer will  be yours to find/You’re the mirror’s master/Now forever I’m resigned”). “After all  the emotional ups and downs of the record, we wanted to end on something  reaffirming, like a mantra,” Gadhia says. “It’s driving home the point that this is  your life and your story, and it’s all up to you to make the rules and do what you  want with it.”  

Throughout Mirror Master , Young the Giant move through an immense scope of  sounds: the gauzy sprawl and choir-like harmonies of “Darkest Shade of Blue,” the  string-laced reverie of “Glory,” the brisk beat of “Brother’s Keeper” and disco  jangle of “Tightrope,” the delicate psychedelia of “Panoramic Girl.” Along with  showcasing Gadhia’s nuanced yet powerful vocals—an instrument praised by the  New York Times as “one of the great contemporary rock voices”—the album  underscores the uncompromising intensity that’s earned Young the Giant a  devoted following and long captivated audiences at their kinetic live shows. 

Although Mirror Master was partly informed by recent life events like the  marriages of several band members—and the ensuing urge to look both inward  and toward the future—the album’s introspective depth also stems from some very  deliberate self-examination in their songwriting. “It’s easy to hide behind the  platitudes that generations of rock & roll music have laid out for us,” says Gadhia.  “Hip-hop has done a good job of separating from those platitudes and being more  real, and that’s what we’re trying to do too: be true to ourselves, and know that  there are people out there who want to see that honesty in our music.” 

With the release of Mirror Master , Young the Giant hope to offer not only  unfettered honesty, but the inspiration and encouragement to help listeners take  charge of their own narratives. “Even though it may all be an illusion, there’s solace  in that illusion,” Gadhia says. “Because if you have control of anything at all, it’s  your own reflection, how you treat people and how you walk through this life.  Don’t let people feed you what they want you to think. Do what makes you happy,  and realize and that all is good and all is horrible and everything else in between.”