Gang of Youths

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The Positions (2015), 5/10
Go Farther in Lightness (2017), 7/10
Angel in Realtime (2022), 6/10

Gang of Youths, formed in Australia in 2011, formed in 2011 by vocalist and guitarist David Le'aupepe, bassist Max Dunn and guitarists Jung Kim and Joji Malani, debuted with The Positions (2015), on which three of them alternate at keyboards and hired hands play drums. Most of these dejected songs sound like singer-songwriter material of the 1970s, especially when David Le'aupepe sings about his personal tragedies over discreet accompaniments of piano (Knuckles White Dry) or guitar (The Overpass). There are signs of life in the emotional crescendo of Vital Signs (with cellist Jane Scarpantoni, pianist James Felice and guitarist Kevin McMahon), in the rocking Poison Drum and in the rapid-fire electronic beat of Radioface, but the hit Magnolia, more or less catchy (actually, rather tedious). It's like a depressed version of the National.

The 74-minute 16-song Go Farther in Lightness (2017) fares better, starting with the piano elegy Fear and Trembling, the instrumental introduction of What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out? (which otherwise feels like Magnolia Part II) and especially Atlas Drowned, with crunchy guitar riffs and a rousing melody. Le'aupepe enters a dreamy mode in the seven-minute Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane and surrounds his psychodrama Achilles Come Down (a standout), another seven-minute song, with neoclassical cello and violin before sliding into the bleak dirge Persevere. There is still time for the techno-rockabilly Let Me Down Easy, for the Bruce Springsteen-ian ode The Heart Is a Muscle for a U2-esque rhapsody like The Deepest Sighs the Frankest Shadows, and for the cello-tinged folk lullaby Our Time Is Short. The album is bloated but marks a quantum leap forward in quality over the first album.

They relocated to London, Joji Malani quit and violinist Tom Hobden of Noah and the Whale joined. The new lineup debuted on the EP Total Serene (2021), which contains Unison and The Angel of 8th Ave.

Angel in Realtime (2022), a concept about the singer's late father, marks a step backwards. Most of the album is filled with generic melodic meditations, like In the Wake of Your Leave and Goal of the Century. Emotions are strong in touching and sparse songs like Brothers and Hand of God, but the music is weak. The syncopated dance-pop of Tend the Garden sounds out of context. At the end we are left with two keepers: the driving The Angel of 8th Ave., which boasts a creative rhythm, an evocative organ and another U2-esque melody, and the anthemic The Kingdom is Within You, wrapped in lush string arrangements.

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )