Home of the Strange is Young the Giant’s newest addition, and with many of the band members having a wide variety of cultural backgrounds between them (Indian, British, Italian/Jewish, Persian and Montrealer to be exact), it’s no wonder they have created an album that explores the borders between the different places you belong to, adapting to different ways of life and creating your own path.
The indie pop-rock band’s lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, grew up in California while his parents had migrated over from India. So beyond growing up in California, he still has a “lot of ties to India and that heritage and the tradition and the philosophy, cultural practices.” The idea of having multiple identities and being able to not only balance but be able to embrace them unapologetically is one that runs through Home Of The Strange.
Third album in, and with the folksy story-telling of Bastille and the hypnotic beats of The Temper Trap, Young the Giant has compiled a mixed pile of lush acoustic (Titus Was Born, Art Exhibit) and beat driven songs (Elsewhere, Silvertongue), all with an underscore of depth.
Amerika opens with an echoey intro before gliding into low synths and tumbling vocals that talk of belonging, (“I was searching for something as I watched you run/I was sad when you said that you never really wanted some”) specifically of being a first generation American, but it can also translate into other situations of multi-dimensionalism in who you are, where you live and how you define yourself within that contrast. Gahdia has been quoted saying “I think, you know, the second that you feel like you may or may not belong to the place that you call home, the rug gets pulled under you and you realize that you’re different. And I think a lot of young people have their issues with this..”
The height of dance-rock going on, on Home of the Strange, can be heard on the party track Silvertongue. With its bouncy bass and sporadic funk/big band effects, its oohs and ahhs, talk of “delirium”, being “addicted to madness” and fizzy guitars, it’s a track to watch out for, a track that would get a festival crowd going for certain. Makes sense seeing the band have “always been enthralled with a backbeat and being able to dance to something.”
But the band reveals they also have their “softer side”. Between the plucking acoustics of the fictional story of Titus Was Born and the backbeat and whirring sonics of closing title track, Home Of The Strange, there is also the mid-tempo, seductive, dim-the-lights, come hither of Elsewhere. It feels like a modern RnB sonic throwback of sorts. There is then the first single on Home of the Strange, Something To Believe In, which has such an interesting conversational quality, between the singer and presumably a God-like figure. Both trying to convince the other to have belief in them. Something To Believe In is just one of the various songs that showcases the band’s versatility in songwriting.
Talking about a book that partly inspired the track Amerika and the journey the boy in the book (he becomes a stowaway on a boat from Germany to America) takes, Gadhia says, “he’s really just at the end of the day trying to belong or find some sort of grounding where he can feel like he knows what’s going on.” And in our own ways, aren’t we all.