Young the Giant surprised the rock world with its smashes "Cough Syrup" and "My Body" in 2010, unusual anthems that connected with huge audiences. When it came time to follow up the successful debut, though, the California band froze for a bit.

"Mind Over Matter" (Fueled by Ramen) is their post-writer's-block effort, and it feels oddly unsure and confined. There's clearly some worry they're trying to shake off, especially in the single "It's About Time," where they discuss paralysis and lurch into Incubus territory. Oddly, they are actually at their poppiest on the dance-beat-driven "Paralysis," showing they learned how to make their disaster fears work for them.

advertisement | advertise on newsday


"Mind Over Matter"


BOTTOM LINE Cutting through the stress to move forward.