This was my first experience of Gang Of Youths, and it was kind of a baptism by fire – their new album is a concept album, at least lyrically, based on the life (and death, as documented in late album highlight “The Man Himself”) of singer David Le’aupepe’s father. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it. Maybe.
Okay, I think I struggled because I was aware that I was wrestling with some heavy and profound material, as well as meeting a new band (very reminiscent of The War On Drugs). Kind of like I was going into something with no expectations except for the expectations the band had placed on themselves through their statements on the album.
Musically, its a bit much at times. The band clearly knows how to compose a song; opener “You In Everything” is gorgeous, “Unison” deploys a horn section to great effect, and “Tend The Garden” is great too. But everything feels over-layered, like there is too much going on at once. I found myself wishing they would’ve pulled back a little at times.
However, Le’aupepe is a force of nature, both the vocal and lyrical work (‘God, it was state of the art / You called each of my sorrows by name / And a tide of tender mercies shook my body from the grave’ is a favourite passage from highlight “The Angel Of 8th Ave”) absolutely top notch.
As I say, I think I liked it. Perhaps the best commendation I can give it is that I’m keen to have another listen. That can’t be a bad thing.
CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.