Following on from their critically acclaimed debut album The Positions, Sydney indie group Gang Of Youths new EP, Let Me Be Clear furthers their reputation as one of Australia’s best current groups. The Sydney 5 piece appear to be in a great pocket of songwriting rhythm and following their 5 ARIA nominations for The Positions, have done well to get back in to the studio to capitalise on their recent success.
Gang of Youths have managed to over come the “second album curse” with their incredible and evolutionary new album Let Me Be Clear.
Let Me Be Clear is a definite continuation of the themes and messages that punctuated The Positions. Vocalist David Le’aupepe, who is also the bands principal songwriter, says of the EP that “It’s a collection of songs tied closely to the themes and narrative of ‘The Positions’, serving as a bookend of sorts to my early 20’s, and the final chapter of the part of my life I spent in love with someone fighting cancer”.
This is clearly reflected in the songwriting and arrangements on Let Me Be Clear. The arrangements are vast and inclusive of many different sounds that allow the band to capture the powerful emotions of Le’aupepe’s lyrical subject matter. Incorporating orchestral elements, ballads, steady rock and moments of emotional explosion, Let Me Be Clear is a demonstration of a band with an exciting array of sounds and styles that will serve them well for this release and releases to come.
One of the prominent features of this EP is the vocal range and story telling ability of Le’aupepe’s vocals. The band’s debut highlighted the lead singer’s vocal ability and, in patches, drew comparisons to other famous vocalists such as Bono and Springsteen. In Let Me Be Clear, Le’aupepe not only reinforces these tones but also, builds on them. Such is the demanding nature of the arrangements. Opening with The Good Fight, Le’aupepe’s soothing baritone perfectly compliments an arrangement that is very reminiscent of Arcade Fire.
His performance on this track suggests a really manly resilience offset by a feeling of great vulnerability, which really draws you in to the track and it’s emotive qualities. The end of the track, which is a fast paced mod rock explosion sees a complete change is Le’aupepe’s delivery, as he begins to yell in a frustrated way about the harrowing situation he found himself in that inspired the EP’s creation. He again, shows his incredible versatility that allows the band to not only push their musical limits, but also keep their songs interesting and reflective of the roller coaster of emotions that are explored in their subject matter.
The new single Strange Diseases is the shortest track on the EP, which, from a release point, makes sense, but from a musical standpoint is equally a great track to keep mouths watering for the inevitable LP that is due to follow. A song about “clinging to love and life and embracing the pedestrian, finding beauty and purpose in the banal” Strange Diseases is the crescendo and the heart of the whole EP.
The star of the track is, again, the incredible vocal, but the string arrangement is definitely an enabler for Le’aupepe to let loose. Exploring the seemingly insignificant parts of his tumultuous relationship, Strange Diseases is a reminder that every moment is precious no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. It’s clear cut message is a great start point for the upcoming record as the EP sort of revolves around coming to the understanding conveyed in the track.
Let Me Be Clear is an EP of shining quality. Gang Of Youths reached some lofty heights last year and a second album can often hamper bands who never seem to be able to recapture the magic of a strong first release. However, Let Me Be Clear is an indication that Gang Of Youths have the musical know how and the drive to progress from The Positions and become one of Australia’s hottest new indie bands. Incredibly emotional without becoming soppy, Let Me Be Clear is triumphant on both an musical and content fronts and is an excellent and appropriate follow up to the bands debut release.