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‘angel in realtime.’ is Gang of Youths at The Peak of Their Powers

Five years from their last album, Gang of Youths have returned with a stunning record inspired by death, grief, family, and more.

Image of Gang of Youths

Ed Cooke*

Throughout their decade-long existence, it’s become abundantly clear that Gang of Youths are a band that deliver both amazing music and emotional devastation in equal part. While we’ve come to expect that as part of their modus operandi, it’s a little hard to anticipate just how emotionally devastating long-awaited third album, angel in realtime. truly is.

Having already taken by the music world by storm thanks to their 2015 debut, The Positions, 2017’s Go Farther in Lightness expanded upon the band’s grandiose musical vision and saw them anointed as one of the country’s most respected exports. Since then, it’s been five long years as fans have waited for a follow-up, with the first taste of their third record having begun to emerge last year.

Upon the release of “the angel of 8th ave.” on their total serene EP in July, Gang of Youths slowly gave their fans an indicator of what to expect. While frontman Dave Le’aupepe had previously teased a 2020 release for the record, with a focus on his father’s passing, the story began to slowly take shape as singles began to emerge and showcasing a more resonant, powerful, and emotional side of the group.

“The album is about the life and legacy of Dave’s father, indigenous identity, death, grief and God,” the group had explained in a statement. “And also the Angel, Islington.”

“I hope the record stands as a monument to the man my father was and remains long after I’m gone myself,” Le’aupepe would add. “He deserved it.”

As further statements explained, Le’aupepe had made the journey from Samoa, to New Zealand, to Australia, with his life being “fraught with mistakes, regret and terrible choices”. The depth of his life story (explored at length in “brothers”) was not in fact made clear until after his passing, with angel in realtime. ultimately serving as a partial tribute and a partial way of making sense of so many unanswered questions.

Much of Le’aupepe’s Samoan heritage is brought to the forefront by way of samples of indigenous music from the Polynesian islands and the wider South Pacific, sourced by ethnomusicologist David Fanshawe, which similarly pays tribute to his father, while musically underscoring the journey that had been undertaken.

As a whole, angel in realtime. manages to transcend the events that inspired it to create a cohesive, accessible whole. On one hand, it’s an impressive document that allows fans to delve deep into the story of Le’aupepe’s father as he invites them in and shares the impressive tale, but on the other, it stands tall as a powerful record that works even without context. If one were to label angel in realtime. with the lofty tag of being a ‘concept album’, it would have achieved the sort of goal that most concept albums fail to reach.

Ultimately though, the question could be asked; after five years, is angel in realtime. a worthy follow-up for Gang of Youths? Have they delivered a record that continues their musical evolution, and one that manages to stand tall without getting too caught up in the story it tells? Well, in true fashion, the answer is a strong and resounding ‘yes’.

Gang of Youths’ angel in realtime. is out now.

Gang of Youths – angel in realtime Australia/Aotearoa 2022 Tour

Saturday, July 30th, 2022
RAC Arena, Perth, WA

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, SA

Saturday, August 6th, 2022
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney. NSW

Friday, August 12th, 2022
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC

Sunday, August 14th, 2022
A More Perfect Union
(With Gang of Youths, Arlo Parks (UK), Cub Sport, Gretta Ray, Adam Newling, and The Lazy Eyes)
Regatta Grounds, Hobart, TAS

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022
Hunter Lounge, Wellington, NZ

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022
Powerstation, Auckland, NZ

Saturday, August 20th, 2022
A More Perfect Union
(With Gang of Youths, Matt Corby, Middle Kids, Budjerah, Blessed, Becca Hatch, and Romero)
Sandstone Point Hotel, Brisbane, QLD