Gang Of Youths

‘angel in realtime.’
February 25, 2022

At a time when the charts are dominated by artists discovered via seconds-long snippets of music on various social media platforms, more and more albums feel like a procession of tenuously-linked singles. From start to finish, Gang Of Youths’ new album angel in real time transports back to a time when albums were, more often, an inextricably connected body of work.

Written as an ode to Dave Le’aupepe’s late father “Tattersall” Teleso Le’aupepe, angel in real time is more akin to a feature-length film. It is also very upfront about what it is going to be, with track one – ‘you in everything’ – running for just under seven minutes. The song builds, rises, falls and kicks off this 13-track record that is simply bursting with passion and emotion.

‘In the wake of your leave’ dropped in January, and really kicks the record into gear as its second track, driven by pacier, rock vibes. ‘Returner’ is the first of several string-driven tracks, showing the influence of Tom Hobden. ‘The man himself’ sees Hobden’s string arrangement underpin the whole track, with a fullness to the rise and fall of beautiful cadences and melodies with beautiful complexity unmatched by most of their contemporaries.

It’s no surprise that some of the highlights of the album are songs we’ve already heard. Earlier this year Gang Of Youths dropped a five-track EP ‘in the wake of your leave’ which included that title track as well as four others that were released last year. All four dropped in Triple J’s Hottest 200, with ‘the angel of 8th ave landing at #6 and ‘the man himself’ coming in at #57.

Much has been written about ‘the angel of 8th ave’ – a track that harks back to the go farther in lightness era of the band, and a song that Dave infamously told triple j last year was the “only track on the album that sounds anything like we used to.” I’ll leave that up to you to judge whether that statement still rings true. However, what’s not up for debate is that the songs that were subsequently released are still quintessentially Gang Of Youths, in many ways.

angel in real time undoubtedly sees Gang Of Youths explore new places sonically. It also features samples of recordings of Indigenous music from the Polynesian islands and the wider south pacific, as well as several Pasifika and Maori vocalists and instrumentalists. These samples of nature can be heard across multiple tracks, including the intro to ‘unison’ – a track that features an unexpected but no less delightful saxophone solo.

‘Brothers’ is an ode to Dave’s brothers, a track that is simply impossible not to get caught up in the emotion of. “I hate myself for stealing all my father’s love, when my brothers thought that he was dead” is about as raw as it gets, giving an intense look into the tough side of families that have been separated.

Emotive is possibly the most overused descriptor when it comes to writing about Gang Of Youths. But truly one of the band’s greatest strengths is to be able to convey just as much feeling, passion and intensity in the tracks with very simple instrumentation, like say ‘hand of god’, as in heavily textured rocking numbers.

Speaking of ‘hand of god’, this piano-backed track is just the first part of a two-part climactic conclusion to the album and is followed by ‘goal of the century’ which takes references from the former to take listeners to an absolute peak as it builds slowly, falls away, builds again. In these two tracks alone, we can see a microcosm of who Gang Of Youths are and what their music means. They are a band that pulls together so many musical elements effortlessly and always manage to tie it all together with lyrics that are meaningful, lyrics that pull you in.

In fact, it is certainly possible that rather than not sounding too much like the Gang Of Youths you used to know, angel in real time is the most Gang Of Youths that the band have ever been.

‘angel in real time’ is out today. Gang Of Youths will headline shows in Australian and Aotearoa in support of ‘angel in realtime’ in July and August 2022. The band have also announced the return of A More Perfect Union: a festival experience curated by the band, featuring some of Australia’s and the world’s most exciting artists.