Gang of Youths

Go Farther in Lightness

Written by: MIN on 22/11/2017 15:32:45

Somewhere in Australia, two and a half years ago, Gang of Youths arrived with what I’d call less than a thud to us Scandinavians. While everyone here at Rockfreaks.net – myself included – was preoccupied with the latest record by another bunch of Aussies, The Smith Street Band, David Le’aupepe (self-proclaimed ”previous loner”) teamed up with what seemingly sounds like a basic rock group: lead guitar (Joji Malani), bass guitar (Max Dunn), keys/additional guitar (Jung Kim) and drums/percussion (Donnie Borzestowski). In reality, however, the band’s debut album, “The Positions”, was far from regular and felt more like an amalgamation of Titus Andronicus and The Killers than just another “run of the mill” rock outfit. During the recording of said album, Le’aupepe was dealing with the fact that his wife had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and he found himself questioning his faith and mental health. Today, on their second album, “Go Father in Lightness”, Le’aupepe is divorced from his now recovered wife, making for a slightly different but overall even more satisfying listening experience that retains the band’s versatility and impressively personal lyrics.

The sum of all the bands you can draw parallels to when listening to Gang of Youths is what makes them such a remarkable band, simply due to the fact that they still manage to sound unique in the midst of all their influences. Album-opener “Fear and Trembling” starts with a few minutes of piano playing that recalls both the theme from “Cheers” and Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” just before going full-fledged punk rock on our asses. Somber tracks like “Persevere” and “Keep Me in the Open” feels like they’re written by The National, while the seismic powers of “Atlas Drowned” is enough to tear down buildings by virtue of sounding like a combination of Bruce Springsteen and previously mentioned Titus Andronicus – in fact, the drums alone are able to kickstart your heart if they needed to. Insistent strings and gentle transitions on tracks like “Achilles Come Down” and “Le Symbolique / Let Me Down Easy” make sure that the record never drowns in bombastic rockers on a record that sounds surprisingly dynamic and never comes off as overblown, while making sure that the record feels coherent and smooth.

However, “Go Farther in Lightness” in full probably isn’t for everyone. While I can’t imagine anyone having any complaints about the up-beat material present, somewhere around the middle of the record, Le’aupepe and company dive dark and deep, both musically and lyrically. “Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane” is seven and a half minute long, and most of it is slow build-up. During it, Le’aupepe depicts a dream he has most nights in which he has a happy life and a loving family, but even in his dream there’s a constant creeping feeling that he might not be strong enough to carry on and ends up sitting alone in the basement, drunk. The track ends with a magnificently emotional guitar solo that doesn’t need to be flashy, but just lets the “less is more”-approach flow free. It’s a highly ambitious track, which requires patience, but the pay-off is incredible. Afterwards comes the part where some listeners risk falling behind: although some might stick through “Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane”, it takes another 15-20 minutes before an up-beat track appears, displaying that this record is in fact 78 minutes long. If you’re into it, you won’t mind because it’s all flawlessly executed by top-notch musicians, but it’s definitely the reason why you won’t see this record topping any charts across the sea; “Go Farther in Lightness” is, despite it’s accessible parts, an artistic piece of work disguised as a rock n’ roll record.

No matter his depressive tendencies, there are only a few frontmen around who are able to inspire such hope in you as Le’aupepe is, shining like a beacon of light in the darkest of nights. Ranging from gentle, intimate guitars to grandiose climaxes, the highly There Will Be Fireworks-sounding “The Deepest of Sighs, the Frankest Shadows” features as exactly that kind of light as it reaches the chorus, in which Le’aupepe sings:

Cause not everything means something, honey // So say the unsayable, say the most human of things // And if everything is temporary // I will bear the unbearable, terrible triteness of being

Thankfully, such hopeful insights reoccur during the record’s last and 16th song, “Say Yes to Life”, which wraps up all the shit and bile, guts and glory that Gang of Youths have presented to us. When you finally get around to listening to it, ask yourself: has there really been a more perfect vocal-delivery this year than during the very last moment of “Say Yes to Life”? Le’aupepe’s ability to balance intimate integrity and stadium-reaching heights is impeccable, and it’s mirrored in the rest of the band’s performance, which, ultimately, only furthers the record’s potential. “Go Father in Lightness” is a remarkable, whole and dynamic album, and it’s probably the best rock record you’ll hear all year. It’ll have you jumping around, pondering alone and maybe even sobbing a little bit, but it’s worth every drop of sweat and tears.

9

Download: Fear and Trembling; Atlas Drowned; What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?; Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane; The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows; Say Yes to Life
For The Fans Of: Titus Andronicus, The Gaslight Anthem, The Killers, The National, There Will Be Fireworks
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.10.2017 (EU/UK)
Sony Music Entertainment


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