Isabella Ross | March 17, 2022
Content warning: this content contains references to death or dying, drug use, and has allusions to mental illness.
The short of it:
Go and listen to Gang of Youths’ most recent album angel in realtime., before you keep reading for soaring strings, cinematic atmospheres, and an evolution of euphoria.
The long of it:
Walking along Shoreham Beach at low tide I dedicated the hour and seven minutes to soak in every piercing lyric, luring hook and dancey beat in its densely woven entirety. Totally immersed in Gang of Youths’ world, there were moments I found myself pausing the music to discover those deep and atmospheric sounds were of angel in realtime. and not the ocean.
Euphoric and deeply meditative, angel in realtime. is so sonically congruous that I’m not always sure when one song ends and the next begins. Treading the territory between painfully self-aware and playfully mischievous, always overindulgent in the intimate details of David Le’aupepe’s internal dialogue, the album unfurls an alluring sound from the painstaking process of discovering his family were not exactly who he had always known them to be.
Musing on the idea of a god we have all questioned—do they exist? If so, where are they? And perhaps where else might we seek solace? angel in realtime. continues the band’s thread of religious conversation from roots in Christian childhoods to finding salvation in music. A notion echoed in conversations with The 1975’s Matty Healy in a GQ interview, where he shares that “art, sex, drugs, religion … [are] just about losing yourself”. Since watching that interview years ago I like to wonder how music can can fill the void we relentlessly shove sex, drugs and religion into, hoping to find the answers that never seem to surface.
Shock reverberates throughout the album—ruminating on the father Le’aupepe loved, jarred by the man he discovered him to be. A decade older than Le’aupepe thought, and a dad to two other boys, the Samoan man disrupted a sense of identity cemented in a childhood of lived experience. Chronicalled through the ‘brothers’ piano ballad the Maori son became the Samoan son in an instant, inspired to memorialise his father as the angel in real time.
Grappling with the insurmountable mountain of grief from a father he never quite knew, ‘you in everything’ reflects on prayer in song—finding his father and loved ones more generally in everything, which was only amplified by my walk alongside the crash of waves that echoed the layered production of ‘unison’.
Playing with production, ‘in the wake of your leave’ bounces from ear to ear building to the grandiose grit of Le’aupepe’s voice, the one that brings us to live shows and seeps into the soul. Cascading throughout the album from ‘return’ to ‘forbearance’ and beyond, the jivey vibe that gets us moving and grooving from the Forum Theatre to Shoreham Beach is well and truly woven throughout, uniting the newer elements of their sound with our established love for the aussie rock ensemble. Encapsulating a sonic environment, instrumental artistry entwine with the indie rock aussies love in an evolution of Gang of Youths growing with the times.
Enraptured by the journey of choosing my own adventure through the album, finding pieces of my own story within lyrics that lay bare or perhaps shroud the truth of inspiration, I love to connect the dots in ways the band never dreamt. Picking a favourite track is a task too hard but I find myself returning time and time again to the playful production of ‘in the wake of your leave’, paying homage to their roots with an undeniably dancey beat.
Stripped back and shining bright, ‘brothers’ tells the story of the album in its purest form with a tactile piano track allowing you to transport yourself to their studio, envisioning the inner workings of the album.
Endeavouring to conclude an unfinished narrative, the two part finale embraces the warmth of music, transporting me from my milieu to a land unbound by social constructs, where we may pray in song to music itself as our saviour.
Carving an alluring sound from the painstaking process of grief, angel in realtime. stands as a memorial of this moment to be devoured as a feast in full, with playful visualisers and moody music videos. Inspired by their seamless inclusion of strings I am left dreaming of the time that these beautiful men write a film score to compliment ambient visual atmospheres and emotional character studies.
Listen to Gang Of Youth’s angel in realtime. on Spotify below.