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Gang of Youths - angel in realtime. Music Album Reviews

Gang of Youths - angel in realtime. Music Album Reviews
Led by the charismatic Dave Le’aupepe, the stadium rock quintet’s wildly ambitious third album is intimate in its details but rarely anything other than IMAX-sized in its proportions.

Gang of Youths’ best songs are odes to life itself: its irrepressibility, its weird flaws and unpredictable contours. Formed in Sydney and now based in London, the five-piece rock band broke out in Australia with “Magnolia,” an unlikely rabble-rouser about the night frontman Dave Le’aupepe survived a suicide attempt. Their second album, 2017’s Go Farther in Lightness, landed somewhere between Japandroids-style festival punk and the National-adjacent indie rock, chronicling both Le’aupepe’s persistent self-laceration and his dogged attempts to find hope. Even the titles of its most resonant songs—“Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane” and “Say Yes to Life”—served as affirmations in themselves. And whenever Le’aupepe’s whole “secular preacher” thing threatened to get a little too Bono, he slipped in a pearler of a gag, like the punchline at the crescendo of the earnest, effusive “Let Me Down Easy”: “If it’s late, you’re drunk, and you want a reason/Some reason to live/I always say just put on some Whitesnake.”

That song, which went double-platinum and cemented their status as a stadium act in Australia, tells you a lot about Gang of Youths. The band—composed of Le’aupepe, bassist Max Dunn, drummer Donnie Borzestowski, guitarist and keyboardist Jung Kim, and multi-instrumentalist Tom Hobden—are often far smarter, weirder, and more compelling than the Funeral tribute act they might seem like on paper. They can get a little cartoonish—see Le’aupepe flexing his bicep when performing a song called “The Heart Is a Muscle”—but that’s part of the fun. As with the 1975, another self-referential, deeply earnest band with a charismatic, self-mythologizing frontperson, Gang of Youths can be a perplexing mix of incredibly cerebral and incredibly dumb, totally ridiculous in one moment and devastatingly serious in the next. Initial skepticism is warranted; all the better to win you over.

Their third record, angel in realtime., is typically overstuffed, crushingly intimate in its details but rarely anything other than IMAX-sized in its proportions. And while that might sound exhausting, it’s actually pretty endearing, all written and performed with such vigor and charm that it’s hard not to get swept up in it. Inspired by the illness and death of Le’aupepe’s father, and the family secrets unearthed in the wake of his passing, the music attempts to honor the complexity of his life while making sense of the confusion he left behind. It’s rendered with a care that sometimes verges on fussiness—the mark of someone trying to create a perfect tribute to a complicated person.

Le’aupepe has spoken often about his father in interviews, noting how he passed down a love of classical music that inspired the band’s frequent use of string arrangements. According to Le’aupepe, his father lived for beauty, and the palette of angel in realtime. is lush and rich. Each song introduces some dazzling new sound, like the showtune-style cheers on “returner” or the samples of traditional Cook Islander hymns that appear on “the man himself.” These experiments build toward “brothers,” a staggeringly raw highlight where the band strips everything away, leaving just Le’aupepe and a piano. With piercing clarity, he recounts the secrets that his late father never revealed to him, among them the fact that Le’aupepe has two brothers in New Zealand who believed their father to be already dead. It’s a devastating, knotty moment, and it feels like the raison d’être for the entire album: a way for Le’aupepe to reckon with his father’s legacy without getting lost in either idolatry or vilification.

When Le’aupepe attempts to make sense not only of his father’s passing but also of his life, he hits his stride. On “tend the garden,” he inhabits his father’s perspective as he moved from Samoa to New Zealand to Australia. “I hope that one day if they find my sons/They’ll tell ’em everything that I’ve become,” he sings, underscored with soulful, Avalanches-style electronic pop. It’s a successful experiment and a rare display of restraint: Unlike some songs, which feel like overstuffed suitcases waiting to burst the minute they hit the baggage carousel, there’s an ease and spaciousness here. Go Farther in Lightness often sounded like a melange of influences done well, but the highlights on angel in realtime. zero in on Gang of Youths’ own territory. That so many songs reference electronic music is smart: Le’aupepe has always moved like a dancer on stage, and he imbues many of his performances here with that graceful quality.

As on Go Farther in Lightness, the sound is occasionally so dense that it’s hard to listen to, with layers of interesting ideas compounded to something impenetrable. Although angel in realtime. is 10 minutes shorter than its predecessor, it’s still 67 minutes long, and it can be hard to take in one sitting. Many of the songs are interconnected and self-referential, an experience not unlike hearing a Broadway soundtrack without having seen the production. But whenever the music threatens to overwhelm, Le’aupepe offers a lifeline. No longer bearing the punky growl of Go Farther in Lightness, he stretches his voice to gorgeous new places, extending the word “truth” into soulful melisma on “goal of the century” and jumping into a falsetto as he exclaims, “Lord, I pray!” on “tend the garden.” His lyrics, too, are as sharp and weird as ever, often at their best at their most outrageous. (Hear him swerve from the hubris of footballers to the struggles of capitalism to the admittedly wobbly hit-or-miss ratio of his own output in “returner.”) For every drum’n’bass beat and skronking horn, he writes a lyric that’s equally ostentatious, and often he seems game for the challenge of matching the high stakes of the music. At its best, angel in realtime. so convincingly sells his grand vision of the world that it’s easy to accept the grandiose production, too. The whole gambit is so outsized that, even when it only kind of works, it feels like a victory.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Gang of Youths - angel in realtime. Music Album Reviews Gang of Youths - angel in realtime. Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, March 05, 2022 Rating: 5

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