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The Indiana Daily Student

arts music review

COLUMN: Young the Giant neatly concludes a saga on 'American Bollywood: Acts III & IV'

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Young the Giant’s first tastes of success came early in their career. The three lead singles from their eponymous 2010 album — “My Body,” “Apartment” and “Cough Syrup” — reached high positions on the Alternative Songs charts and to this day are some of the most recognizable of the band’s works.  

Throughout the 2010s, Young the Giant released three more studio albums, each finding their way onto Billboard charts in some capacity. Their most recent release, “American Bollywood: Acts III & IV,” constitutes the third and fourth parts of a four-part work, the first half of which was released in August of this year.  

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Each act of the album contains four songs, with Act III opening on “Dollar $tore.” A forceful start, “Dollar $tore” features heavy, rhythmic guitar and drums, leaving ample space in the beat for the melodic voice.  

About a third of the way through, the backing becomes much smoother and more atmospheric, with echoey guitar lines and understated bongo keeping the beat before shifting back to the heavier beat for the final third. This section amps up the intensity, bringing back the familiar texture in a fresh and interesting way. 

“I Bite” takes a step back with a mellow waltz-like pattern. The harmonic movement during the verses is rather simple, but the vocal harmonies projecting over the serene backing carry a lot of weight for the tune.  

It builds slowly throughout, beginning with just guitar arpeggios and adding in synthesizers, low drums and eventually an energetic backbeat. The song keeps its delicate tone throughout, but this subtle build keeps the energy moving throughout its duration. 

The band calls back to their classic sound on “Dancing in the Rain.” This song is reminiscent of Young the Giant’s work of the 2010s, but with a dash of funk to keep things interesting. The main texture is built on a drone surrounded by numerous percussive instruments in the verse and switches to a more powerful rock backbeat with guitars and bass for the chorus.  

“Happy,” the first song of Act IV, presents the heaviest backing on the album. Intense bass drum and a warbling synth bass make the track sound enormous while lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia’s voice and guitar countermelodies float on the dense bed of sound.  

Toward the end of the tune, this strong texture is replaced by an acoustic guitar and the groove builds back up from almost nothing. Although it doesn’t reach the level of the rest of the song, it’s an excellent way to end it.  

The other three-fourths of Act IV divorce from this extremity for the most part. “Otherside” begins at a point of low energy with just electric piano chords before dropping into a groovy drumbeat with bass and light guitars.  

The chorus further bumps up the intensity, making the drumbeat even more energetic and pushing the guitars to their upper register. Despite the business of the sound, the song overall feels gentle and morose, with the complex texture aiding its emotional impact. 

The album ends on a similarly calm note with “Same folk.” Easily the work’s weakest point, the song is entirely guitar arpeggios and Gadhia’s vocals, only adding soft backing vocals at the very end.  

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It’s a pleasant and mild tune but following the intense and intricate constructions of the rest of the album, it seems to fall short. Perhaps if it had appeared in the middle of the work, it would have been better received, but as an ending, it’s rather disappointing.  

The final two acts of “American Bollywood” are a succinct listen at just eight songs total, but they manage to take the listener through a myriad of sounds and styles, creating an almost-never-stagnant listening experience. What weak points it does have are few and unobstructive, and the album’s strongest material comes together spectacularly to create a deep and rich work.

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