Young the Giant’s “Mirror Master” gets vulnerable, raises questions

Ashley Potts

Reading through Young the Giant’s song lyrics is often like trying to analyze poetry. There are lots of metaphors and things that don’t quite make sense when just blindly singing along to the catchy tunes that accompany the words.

From top hits like “Cough Syrup” and “My Body,” the band is known for making music about deeper things. The band’s fourth album, “Mirror Master,” is no different, and listening to it from start to finish isn’t exactly easy listening. The band was pretty clear about exploring new ideas on this album, but that sentiment didn’t click until track five or six.

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The first two songs on the album, “Superposition” and “Simplify” were released early as singles. The band performed the two songs mixed in with their Grandoozy set that was highly reminiscent of their recent “Home of the Strange” tour. They fit in pretty seamlessly and were performed with the same fervor and energy Sameer Gadhia and crew always bring to a live show. They fit with the canon of Young the Giant fans have come to know.

Sameer Gadhia performs with Young the Giant at Grandoozy on Sept. 15. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Tracks three and four “Call Me Back” and “Heat of the Summer” are a little more chill, but still fit in with the expected indie vibe. 

The album feels really relatable. Lyrics like “feel like it’s been forever/ since I had my sh*t together” certainly relate to some inner struggles that the album aims to get at. These songs are new, but they feel like they fit with the rest of past discography.

“Oblivion” starts out with a familiar sentiment. The opening lines “rich bored kids, pissing away fortunes” and “sell your soul to make it, it’s the modern way” are on par with their whole “Home of the Strange” album, which was very political. “Oblivion” gets a little chaotic and feels like one of those moments you could tell the Beatles were on acid. Frontman Gadhia said that’s kind of the point. 

“I wanted that part to go on forever,” Gadhia said in an interview with Billboard. “That is pure cacophony after you listen to it enough times, and it kind of becomes in itself calming, even though it is so chaotic.”

After that chaotic moment, there is a very serious moment in “Darkest Shade of Blue.” The song takes a moment to outrightly say “you’re not alone.” In the midst of a very metaphoric album about self-reflection, this is a nice moment of clarity. Though, it’s not a song that will be on many daily playlists as it’s very deep and rather somber.

The same goes for “Glory.” Gadhia said it’s meant to address the contradictions within oneself.

“I try to think of myself as a good person, but in the eyes of the church, I am most definitely a sinner,” Gadhia said in an interview with Billboard. “… There are just so many things in society that we believe to be all good or all bad. And obviously, they’re not. Everything is gray. Nothing is black or white.”

While this context is understood, this track is lost on me. If I tuned in to it halfway through I might think I’d accidentally turned to a Christian radio station. The instrumentals are beautiful, but this is still my least favorite track on the whole album. 

“Tightrope,” seems to keep with the theme of thinking for yourself while being pulled in a million different directions. This track is very upbeat and on brand. It’s not hard to picture Gadhia performing this one live. Unfortunately, Grandoozy was the only Colorado stop on their upcoming tour, so we’ll have to wait to see that. 

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Sameer Gadhia performs with Young the Giant at Grandoozy on Sept. 15. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

“Panoramic Girl” and “You + I” are both very chill and kind of sexy and romantic. While this album was heavily about self-reflection, Gadhia said “At the end of the day, we can go into the philosophies of all this crazy shit, but if I have no one to share it with, then what’s the point?” These songs focus on that human connection. They don’t bop as hard as some Young the Giant songs, but still make for good listens. 

The title track, “Mirror Master,” is one of the most Young the Giant sounding tracks on the whole album. The chorus is incredibly catchy and will likely have fans singing along. It also brings together much of the ethereal message of self-reflection that the album follows. It seems to say that life is crazy and it’s hard to figure out who you are at any given time, but you just kind of have to embrace it and decide who you want to be and go for it. 

Should you listen to it? Yes.

It leaves a lot to figure out, but it’s overall a good listen. Listening straight through has a lot of ups and downs, but there are definitely gems in there that are worth playing on repeat.

Ashley Potts can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @ashleypotts09.