The release of Gang Of Youths' recent single "the angel of 8th ave." felt like the launch of an entirely new band rather than a mere resurrection. With a new sound of cinematic scale and pure emotional punch, the track received support in Australia from Rolling Stone Australia, triple j, NME Australia, The Music, Music Feeds, and globally with Radio 1, Radio X, NME, DIY and Dork.
The band's accelerating momentum continues as they share the surprise new EP total serene. Their first body of work since their four-time ARIA Award winning second album Go Farther In Lightness, the EP is launched alongside their new track "unison".
"unison" is a track that truly signposts Gang Of Youths' future. It's so intricately detailed, with a production that extends the core band sound with layers of everything from brass to banjo, programmed beats to samples of David Fanshawe's influential documentation of indigenous Pacific music. At the same time, it feels so natural and uncluttered, an unlikely blend that allows it to soar to a moving crescendo.
"unison" unites the themes established by the EP's other two songs. It's a celebration of love's salvation, but in the hands of Le'aupepe it's more nuanced, touching upon how current circumstances are influenced by both our heritage and by sheer chance.
He says, "'unison' is a deeply important track for us that really signals where the music is headed on the new record. I conceived the song in Samoa, my ancestral homeland. Here we sample and introduce the work of David Fanshawe, who travelled to the Pacific Islands in the 1980s and recorded the most extensive library of indigenous Pacific music anywhere in the world."
Having informed "the angel of 8th ave.", Gang Of Youths explore a different aspect to their Anglophile music tastes with the other new track, "asleep in the back". This time around it's their take on the early Elbow classic, the original of which Guy Garvey and co. released in 2002. The song's poetic exploration of having the bravery to expose your frailties and foibles to a new love feels like a natural extension to the story that frontman Dave Le'aupepe depicted in "the angel of 8th ave."
Sonically, Gang Of Youths refresh rather than reinvent the song as the warmth of their live instrumentation underpins the song's vulnerable, confessional ambience. It's a mood amplified by the depth of feeling that exudes from Le'aupepe's husky delivery.
"We love Elbow and we thought it was thematically relevant," he says. "It couldn't have been anything other than 'asleep in the back'."
The band – completed by Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar, keyboards), Donnie Borzestowski (drums) and Tom Hobden (keyboards, guitar, violin) – produced the total serene EP themselves in their own studio space in Hackney. The title references the headspace that Le'aupepe has craved for his entire life – something which, whether we realise it or not, is surely a universal human desire.
Since relocating to London in 2017, Gang of Youths have consistently scaled up the city's live circuit by progressing from grassroots venues such as The Old Blue Last and The Water Rats to sell-out the O2 Forum Kentish Town just a year later. Their most recent gigs in the capital have included four sold-out nights at the Islington Assembly Hall, and a show as part of BRITs Week 2020 in support of War Child. In addition to their upcoming headline shows and festivals, they are also confirmed to join Sam Fender's upcoming arena tour, which is in the process of being rescheduled.
Gang of Youths will release a special limited vinyl re-issue of their EP Let Me Be Clear - on Friday 30th July. Let Me Be Clear, which debuted at #2 on the ARIA Charts, is a 6-track collection of material which closed the book on their debut album, The Positions, which also includes a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." The original vinyl, of which 500 units were made only, has become quite the sought-after item amongst Gang of Youths fans worldwide, and so on its 5-year anniversary, comes a special edition of Let Me Be Clear, on CLEAR vinyl.
Formed in Sydney, Australia in 2011, Gang Of Youths have made a big impression with their two albums to date, The Positions (2015) and Go Farther In Lightness (2017), the latter of which won four prestigious ARIA Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Group. Their life-affirming live shows have made them a festival hit everywhere from Splendour In The Grass to Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Rock Werchter and Mad Cool.
total serene tracklist:
1. the angel of 8th ave.
2. asleep in the back