Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
There is a part of me that wants to set out one day, just wandering and drifting, with no form of plan or idea about where I might be headed. It would just be me taking off toward the west, to the south and the west, where it's always unbearably warm, without reprieve. This part of me would take the hesitant body into Death Valley and the wandering would continue until cactuses started to look like sizzling, ready-to-dine-on pork chops or buzzards and lizards looked like Cornish game hens, ready to slice into and release all of their delicious juices. It would be a vacation from comforts and one that would promote severe dehydration and a spectacularly delirious quality of thought that would turn you mad - perhaps permanently, if you let it. For the sake of the illusion though, we'll keep the madness to a temporary bout of the stuff. We're not looking for much more than that, just enough to hallucinate naturally and start to think those thoughts of paranoia, even when we're surrounded by nothing - just endless sand and heat. It's in order to get into the head of a man who's gone off and into some unguarded territories of the mind, where much is frightful and fascinating. Sameer Gadhia, the lead singer of the Los Angeles-based band Young The Giant, seems as if he takes himself off the rails at times on the group's self-titled debut, allowing his mind to travel into those odd places that swell with desire and scariness, where there's no telling what you're going to get. Gadhia lets him get to feeling so deeply that it makes him black out. It wouldn't be surprising if he often comes off stage and admits that he didn't remember a second of what just happened for the past 45 minutes or so, completely wound up into the fiery burns of the moment. He loses it and he sings about those who are losing it, who are choosing to get consumed within the engines and the gears of the pulpy, fleshy machinery of bodies and finding no lights at the end of the tunnel. Most of that consumption can be enticing and sweet, but it does carry with it an inherent darkness that puts the shadows beneath the trees. Gadhia and the rest of his dynamic and soul-searching band (guitarist Jacob Tilley, guitarist Eric Cannata, bassist Payam Doostzadeh and drummer Francois Comtois) find a way to get us lost in the late summer doldrums - tired of going to the pool or the pond every day and knowing that we don't want what we're doing/this leisure lifestyle of carefree excess to come to a close, but we're also burnt out on it. We keep jumping into that water, but every splash makes us feel less and less. On "Strings," Gadhia sings, "Lost in the summer, man/We're burnin' up," and it's a tropical visual of people definitely coming undone a bit, feeling the world getting buried in a collective heat. They feel like tortured souls, men and women bowing and warping under the pressure, while keeping some of the flash in their eyes still because they know they'll be sorry if they don't.