Project Description

GANG OF YOUTHS

“Go Farther In Lightness”

(Album Review)

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Gang Of Youths

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At the end of The Positions chapter we were left feeling as though front man Dave Le’aupepe only just scraped out to the other end, battered and bruised. By the end of Go Farther In Lightness you feel that he’s standing tall, healed and strong.

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The Sydney grown, now London based, self-proclaimed, Dad Rockers, Gang of Youths, gave a beautifully and brutally raw debut with The Positions, one year later they closed their first chapter with Let Me Be Clear. Their sophomore record Go Farther In Lightness was eagerly anticipated, especially as they pumped out four top quality singles prior to the albums release. It was obvious it was going to be great at the least, but the masterful attention to detail, originality and pure truthfulness that was delivered here should cement Gang of Youths as one of countries best bands.

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Gang Of Youths

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God, mortality, society, love, fear and existentialism are some of the themes that Le’aupepe puts forward and tries his best to find his own answers to. Le’aupepe puts together a great use of inspirations and influences to further his writing, from the New Sincerity art movement, to the mythological stories of Homer and Virgil, to single lines of poetry. The lyrics here benefit greatly so because of it, transforming it’s influences into vessels that perfectly and creatively translate Le’aupepe’s presented themes. Achilles becomes self-reflection of mortality in Achilles Come Down. In Atlas Drowned, Atlas is turned into both a personification of “unfettered, unmitigated, capitalistic impulses” that Ayn Rand sees as entitled in her novel Atlas Shrugged, impulses Le’aupepe wishes to see “fall”. There’s also a great use of symbolism here, Le’aupepe has talked about the parallel he uses in Our Time Is Short of living and loving but not knowing when it will end “so let’s drink… the best wine now” because there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. There’s a poetic feeling to it, putting reality into a perspective that could seem grim but is turned into a beautiful statement of making the most of something while you can. Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane delivers a similar message, told in the form of story about a recurring dream of a beautiful life that turns tragic. The use of story telling can be found on other tracks on the record, like Keep Me in the Open. As well as Persevere, a song that talks about Le’aupepe’s incomprehensibility of God after an “unspeakable” loss that happened to his best friend. What this use of story telling does is brilliantly, smartly and convincingly postulate perspectives on life, done with the perfect emotion to be delivered how it should be. Memorable lines are found throughout the entirety: “If everything this temporary, I will bare the unbearable” is empowering, “tell me how can I make this beast die easily, coz I’m tryin’, honeybee” is both sweet and sad and “I got solipsism baby and I brought lemonade” is hilariously casual (just to name a few). The thought and depth of the writing sets a bar that isn’t matched by anyone, it confirms the dedication, care and want for the best way to carry and close the themes, especially the heavier ones.

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Gang Of Youths

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From Baroque strings to grunge guitar, both variety and cohesiveness is brought the table with the instrumentation of the record. The rock element is most hard hitting with Atlas Drowned, with it’s great, deep guitar, fast bass and strong drums, and is perfectly topped off with one of Gang of Youths’ “catastrofucks”. The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows is possibly the most powerful track, with its soothing rhythm and lead guitars, building drums that utterly drive the chorus, excellently accompanied by underlining brass that ends up climaxing the song. The most interesting is Achilles Come Down, with violin, viola and cello and some underlying plucky harp, mixed in with a french audio track popping up between verses. There’s constant changes in the arrangements that keeping drawing you further in, but also give major emotional manipulation, ranging from sombre and solemn to bright and almost hopeful. Let Me Down Easy too filled with strings, but more upbeat and happier, greatly paired with Le’aupepe’s singing, matched with an easy and catchy drum beat; guitar coming in at the end of the song to climax with a such a sweet, uplifting feeling. What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out? is up there with the most impressive instrumentation, the complimentary fast guitar and drum arrangement, along with the piano bass line and almost human-like, twanging flute that plays underneath.

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Gang Of Youths

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What sets this album above so many others this year are it’s attentive details and it memorable moments, whether small and beautiful or epic and grandiose. Such things come in many forms. Both his performance and the mixing of the vocals, Le’aupepe shines frequently times throughout. The doubled up vocals of Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane work in tandem with such ease, and switch forefronts at the end smoothly, giving us a great pay off for the slow burn of the song. Achilles Come Down has it’s it voice overlap, feeling almost theatrical as the two streams come together. Smaller instrumental moments have the same impact, such as the brightly toned xylophone that plays in the background of The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows, or the simple piano notes coming in between the verses of Keep Me in the Open. Then there’s the interludes that appear throughout, giving both strong structure and class to the record, setting up the tracks that follow them but also hold a strong place on their own; especially Le Symbolique. More than just the interludes giving great transitions and flow to the record, the sparkling chimes that fill gap between the Atlas Drowned and Keep Me in the Open give an uninterrupted and flush feel, going big and bold to sweet and melodic so simply. This tonal change is done twice more on the record too, Achilles Come Down and Persevere as well as The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows and Our Time Is Short. It shows how the record can build to climaxes throughout but also knows how to ease you back down after bringing you up so high, never feeling stale and always setting the right tone across every beat.

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Gang Of Youths

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The album is bookended by two epic tracks that juxtapose each other Fear and Trembling and Say Yes to Life. Le’aupepe described Fear and Trembling as the transition between the sound of The Positions chapter and the Go Father In Lightness chapter. Done with Springsteen influence, the thematic elements of the record become established whole heartedly. With lyrics like “I’m terrified of loving, because I’m terrified of pain”, “missing out on human things by cowering away” and “it’s bound to be much worse” Le’aupepe’s mentality towards life is shown. Throughout the record the developments of these perspectives become more fleshed out and developed to climax at triumphant and inspiring Say Yes to Life. At the end it’s clear how much Le’aupepe has learnt in himself, being a culmination of him seeming to have mastered and taking risks again with the things he was too wary of before hand. To finish, he reaches out to his audience to not do the same as him, ending with: “Say yes to sin, say yes to pain, say yes to sticking with a city through a thousand days of rain, say yes to grace, say no to spite, say yes to you, say yes to me, say yes to love, say yes to life!”

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The new chapter in the Gang of Youths chapter didn’t try to be anything that came before, but to push themselves further with successful ambition that may have resulted in this year’s best album. Unwavering, strong and energetic, when needed, vocal performance. Crisp drumming. Variety of both tone and sound of guitar and bass that you can’t fault. A creative, surprising and smart use of strings and brass. Themes that were fleshed out and given closure. The list could go on summarising what this album did right, so what did it do wrong…?

Nothing!

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Reviewer Details

  • Blake Luxford