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    Album Review

    Young the Giant ponders outsiderdom on hopeful third album

    Lauren Dukoff/Interscope Records

    Young the Giant has risen from the Southern California suburbs to become a full-on pop-rock force — the quintet has become a rock-radio darling, been given the “Glee” treatment, and wowed crowds at festivals, including the inaugural Boston Calling in 2013. On its third album, “Home of the Strange,” the band deals head-on with the experience of being outsiders in America — specifically, living in the United States while being from somewhere else.

    Opening with “Amerika,” which borrows its title and its central ideas of landing somewhere oddly familiar from the unfinished Franz Kafka novel, “Home of the Strange” is a sleek, catchy pop-rock record with undertones that seem accidentally political, thanks to lyrics that allude to outsiderdom. (The band started work on the album in 2014.) Any politics it does reveal are motivated by hope — not just within the lyrics, but in the spiky, exuberant music.

    Young the Giant’s finely tuned ear for pop is on grand display here, and frontman Sameer Gadhia excels at playing ringmaster, testing the edges of his vocal range while spinning yarns with brio. But those moments when the band adds smudges of dirt to its big-tent hooks are the most satisfying. “Jungle Youth” is a swaggering, gimlet-eyed view of a bacchanal where the guests are “bathing in holy water,” and its glam-tinged crunch only adds to the hedonistic opulence.


    The existentially minded “Nothing’s Over” opens with cavernous, foreboding synths before blossoming into a pulsing, bass-heavy dance track that could stretch deep into the night. Payam Doostzadeh’s revved-up bass lines, particularly on the back end of “Nothing’s Over” and the flinty “Mr. Know It All,” recall the melodic rhythms laid down by Duran Duran’s John Taylor.

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    Ultimately, “Home of the Strange” is all about inclusion: Meticulously crafted songs that double as roof-raising anthems invite close listening, which is step one down the road to understanding.


    Young the Giant plays House of Blues Sept. 18.

    Maura Johnston can be reached at