GANG OF YOUTHS – ” Angel In Realtime ” Best Albums Of 2022

Posted: June 15, 2022 in MUSIC

While writing the album “Angel In Realtime“, frontman David Le’aupepe had been grappling with the death of his father, and he also learned that, before his father moved to Australia where David was born, he had left behind a past life and a previous family, and abandoned his Samoan heritage. All of that looms large over this album, which finds David reclaiming that heritage through samples of indigenous music and contributions from Pasifika and Māori vocalists and instrumentalists, and David frequently confronts these themes head-on with some of the most candid lyrics of his career.

The album opens with David grieving for his father on the gorgeous “You In Everything,” and the album’s centerpiece is “Brothers,” a bare-bones, show-stopping piano ballad that goes into great detail about David’s newly-learned family history (“Our father’s love was unmistakable and he gave us everything he had/And I guess that meant pretending he was half white to give his kids a better chance”). It touches on other aspects of David’s life too, like the love he has for his wife (“The Angel of 8th Ave”) and being disillusioned by the music industry (“Returner”), but the unifying theme throughout is that “Angel In Realtime” feels like David Le’aupepe holding up a mirror to his life, being as honest and authentic as possible.

Angel In Realtime” doesn’t rock as hard as its 2017 predecessor “Go Farther In Lightness”, and it tones down the bombast a bit too, though it’s not without its arena-sized moments. Instead, it favours twitchy, glitchy rhythms that recall The National at their most experimental, or The 1975’s art rock side. And the heartland rock stuff on this one veers a little closer to a propulsive War On Drugs-y shuffle than Springsteen worship.

David remains not just a commanding lyricist but also a hook smith, and these songs feel just as destined to incite singalongs as the band’s earlier singles. “Angel In Realtime” is the ideal follow up; it marks a noticeable progression from its predecessor without straying too far from the charm that fans expect. Listening to it feels like falling in love with Gang of Youths band all over again.

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