Gang Of Youths made their comeback with their highly anticipated single 'the angel of 8th ave.' released on June 16th. The single was the first taste of new music since the success of their 2017 album Go Farther In Lightness and gave us insight into the direction of their latest EP total serene. Now 'the angel of 8th ave.' has cracked the Top 10 on Alternative Radio Charts in the US; a milestone moment for the band.
Just last week, Gang Of Youths were sitting at number 12 on the Adult Alternative Airplay chart for Billboard. After 5 weeks of slowly making its way up, it is now at number 9 with a high probability of reaching higher. A huge achievement for any Australian band.
Success in America hasn't come overnight for Gang Of Youths, who have been touring North America since 2013. Spending the years before COVID-19 travelling across the country, the band have paid their dues, from the early days playing to 20 people, gradually building each time they returned, to most recently in 2018 playing to thousands at sold out shows across the country. This earned them the call up to tour with the likes of Mumford and Sons and the Foo Fighters, and now, with their first Top 10 radio hit, the outfit are poised to make more waves in the US.
'the angel of 8th ave.' has been a striking step forward for the band as they embark upon the most vital phase of their career so far. This time they're channelling the musical lineage of their new life in the UK, drawing on the hypnotic motorik grooves of Joy Division and the luminous synths that embody classic New Order. It's an utterly assured evolution of the ambitious, transformative music that they have become renowned for.
The song also represents a shift in Dave Le'aupepe's lyrical approach. Now his focus falls on exposing the beauty and elegance of conversational, tell-as-it-is language in a song about the grandest of emotions. Simultaneously, it is still both poetic and intensely real. His opening words hone sharply in on a moment that changed the direction of his life, while the spectre of death conversely provides a glimpse of a brighter future.
"It's about falling in love, and finding a new life in a new city together," tells Dave.
Entirely self-produced, the track was recorded in their own studio in Hackney, a place that provides them with unlimited creative freedom. It was subsequently mixed by the Grammy-winning Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, The National).
Directed by Joel Barney, the song's accompanying video was filmed in the band's hometown of Angel, North London. The focal point is a tight close-up of Le'aupepe's highly charismatic performance, as the band dart from the bustle of the station to the relative desolation of the canal.
Joining the outfit for the first time in the recording is the multi-skilled instrumentalist, Tom Hobden. The former member of Noah and The Whale had joined Gang Of Youths as a performance member prior to COVID-19 and was announced to be officially joining the band in a letter from bassist Max Dunn in October 2020. Their current line-up is completed by Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar, keyboards), Donnie Borzestowski (drums) and Tom Hobden (keyboards, guitar, violin).
The band had planned to have a creative reset before COVID enforced a downing of tools in early 2020. They took it as a sign for complete artistic overhaul. "I think it's been challenging for us, this whole process, but it's probably going to be good for our music. We've gone in a less safe direction and it's going to be more in line with Dave's actual vision, rather than Dave pumping something out to get a deadline met," says Dunn. "We're exploring so many different territories and sides of ourselves and that's manifesting in the music," adds Kim. "We're doing things that have never really made an appearance in Gang Of Youths."