Australian band Gang of Youths have just released their new EP called ‘total serene’ via Warner Records. When I received word about the band I thought they were new on the music scene, but they seem to be new only to America. The band has released two albums, Positions (2015) and Go Farther in Lightness (2017), the latter of which won ARIA Awards for Album of the Year and Best Group. ARIA Awards being Australia’s equivalent to the Grammys.
Judging from the number of people that have watched their YouTube videos, the band is a big deal everywhere, and is now ready to be a big deal in the States with the release of this EP. It’s only three songs long, but hopefully in the future a full album will follow.
The group is made up of, frontman David Le’aupepe, Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar, keyboards), Donnie Borzestowski (drums) and Tom Hobden (keyboards, guitar, violin). The band originated in Sydney, Australia in 2011, and relocated to London 2017 feeding off on the city’s endless energy.
The end result is a new EP that while has a certain familiarity, sounds completely fresh and original. This has a lot to do from Le’aupepe’s influences of indigenous Pacific music. His roots go back to Samoa, his ancestral homeland. That sound and influence can be best heard on the song “Unison.” The song was conceived in Samoa with programmed beats and samples of David Fanshawe’s influential documentation of indigenous Pacific music that has been recognized around the world as the most comprehensive.
The EP starts with “The Angel of 8th Ave.” The song starts with some cool rhythms and has a great jangly indie style guitar part, then an additional guitar sweeps with some spaghetti guitar work, that I personally always dig. The song is about finding love and wanting to be a better person with it.
So we got straight to the heart
And I was a coward and worse to my shame
And fell hard upon the weightless weeks
And wasted every day
Till you emerged in the park
Like some patron of Washington Square
The song reaches is sweeping ending with a swirl of keyboards that lifts the tune to higher grounds. It allows the song have a real New Wave eighties feel, but like stated before, still seems as fresh as a summer morning.
The next track “Asleep in the Back” (an Elbow cover) changes radically in tone with a lullaby feel throughout. This is not a bad thing. If anything, it shows off the versatility of Gang of Youths. Even though the song is not originally done by them it fits the totality of the EP and perfectly sits content within the record’s themes.
“Unison” close out the EP and hints at the direction that Gang of Youths will most likely follow. This song musically represents the culmination of everything the band was trying to achieve up to this point. The song starts with gently rain falling before the vocals start. The song’s lyrics are about finding the right person to fall in love with and knowing that you will do anything for them.
You’re a long damn way from North Carolina now
What a goddamn victory I guess
Swimming it up like assholes at Sina Lei
The way my ancestors did
And if they find me face down
Dead in the chuck
At least they’d know that I loved you this much
And was happy I caved upon your insistence
Cuz now it all means something
In this ageless thing
The song has a slow burn to it that goes on before the Pacific Music influence come roaring in, with a swirl of background vocal as Le’aupepe sings the euphoric last verse.
I was born and survived by some cold inner space
Til you called out and told me I belonged in this place
Here’s hoping that the band has a chance in America.
Article: Carmine Basilicata