After “Angel”: Gang of Youths EP in July, to be followed by “polarising” album

I know, I know … it’s been less than 24 hours since we got to hear the new Gang of Youths single, but let’s not kid ourselves: Everyone wants to know what’s going with the new Gang of Youths album.

The band started answering that question in a couple different interviews today to promote “The Angel of 8th Ave.”

Dave Le’aupepe and Tom Hobden spoke with Zane Lowe today on his Apple Music show, New Music Daily, and revealed that they’re still working on that new album.

“It’s not done because the caveat is nothing with me — as Tom has found out in force over the last two years — nothing with me is ever done,” Dave said. “We’ve actually scrapped the album twice and restarted.” Sound familiar? It was just a couple weeks ago when Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz said he had sung on the album, but it was scrapped.

Tom quickly chimed in and told Lowe, “it’s ready when it’s ready. You know, I’m not going to rush it.”

As far as we know, neither band member mentioned this during the conversation with Lowe, but the show notes for their appearance describe “Angel of 8th” as “from their forthcoming EP, dropping in July.” Have a look:

We’ve reached out to get confirmation or comment on that, because it’s the only place we’ve found where a July EP was mentioned today. (We should mention here that Deepest Sighs has heard rumors recently that the next official release will be an EP, not a full album. But we haven’t heard any rumors about a release date.)

Dave also appeared on Triple J radio today and the subject of new music was a hot topic. The Triple J write-up of that interview says this:

Le’aupepe confirms a new body of work is coming “at some point in the next year or so” and will sound “extremely different or could potentially polarise people.” 

It doesn’t specifically mention an EP or album, just “a new body of work.” Hmmmmm.

The article does go on to explore that idea of the band’s new music being polarising. “Angel of 8th,” according to Dave, is “the only song that sounds anything like what we used to do.” He says the band wanted fans to hear something familiar “before we took them on this journey that could be polarising, that uses a lot more breadth of musicality and eclecticism as opposed to what we were known for about 6-7 years.”

The article also quotes Jung Kim saying “we’re doing things that have never really made an appearance in Gang of Youths.” And there’s a Max Dunn quote that seems to include a swipe at the record label about deadlines:

In a statement, bassist Max Dunn also talks up going “in a less safe direction and it’s going to be more in line with Dave’s actual vision, rather than Dave pumping something out to get a deadline met.”

So what could all this mean?

For one, we know that the band spent time early last year recording something with the Auckland Gospel Choir.

That could certainly qualify as a new sound that’s unlike what we’ve heard before from Gang of Youths.

There are also the aforementioned contributions from Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, not to mention the possibly tongue-in-cheek reference from F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo about singing on the album. Unique? Yes, but neither necessarily hints at a new musical direction.

So at this point, it sounds like anyone’s guess when we’ll get more new music from Gang of Youths. Best case scenario could be an EP next month and then an album “at some point in the next year or so.”

Whenever it all happens, it also sounds like we’ll be hearing something totally new and different from “The Angel of 8th Ave.”

Angel of 8th Ave. review: There’s Heaven in Here Now

When we last heard from Gang of Youths on record, Dave Le’aupepe was urging us to say yes to love and yes to life. And because of what Dave himself had been through over the course of the band’s first two studio albums, you knew inside that he was also reminding himself to do the same. “I wanna be loved, I wanna be whole again” he sang on “The Heart Is A Muscle.”

Almost four years have passed and Gang of Youths is back with a new single, “The Angel of 8th Ave.” It carries a lot of weight on its musical shoulders.

  • It’s the first new music that fans have heard since Go Farther In Lightness. Expectations couldn’t be higher. As fans of a band and singer who wears his heart on his (lyrics) sleeve, we’re all anxious to hear how Dave’s been doing and where things stand today in his quest to be more human and love again.
  • It’s also the band’s first release under an international recording contract with Warner Records — reported here first in spring 2019 — so it serves as a “Hello world, we’re Gang of Youths” statement to what everyone hopes will be legions of new fans.

No pressure or anything.

The good news? “The Angel of 8th Ave.” carries all of that weight with ease.

It’s an almost unbridled love song that Dave is singing for and about his wife, Cort. The band’s email today describes it as a song “about finding love in a new city.” Yes, in the first couple verses he sings about being “a coward and worse to my shame” who “wasted every day” — themes that are reminiscent of Dave’s past struggles. But when Cort is introduced in verse two, Dave sings that “for the first time in a long time, inside everything stood clear.”

In that sense, “The Angel of 8th Ave.” is a natural progression from the story that Dave shared on Go Farther In Lightness. On that album, he sang often about learning how to love again and wanting to risk loving again. On “Angel,” we see him and Cort living that out together.

You persuade me now
To look closer in the mirror
And I wanna lay me down
For years and years and years and years

Dave has promised that his father’s death in 2018 will be a significant theme of the new Gang of Youths’ material. So it’s no surprise to hear him sing about it even in a love song for his wife.

You are good to me still
When my old man was near the end
You loved his broken body
In the same way that I did

While the lyrical themes remind us and build on the past, in other ways “Angel” is new ground for Gang of Youths. It’s a straightforward rock song that comes in at a tight, radio-friendly 3:58. Gang of Youths rarely does songs like this. “Angel” would be the second-shortest non-instrumental song on Go Farther In Lightness and it’s shorter than every track on their debut album, The Positions.

“Angel” is also a big STFU to anyone who questioned that Hobden-replacing-Malani decision. This new single makes it perfectly clear that Gang of Youths is still a Rock Band, capital R and capital B, and isn’t about to take up residence in Spotify’s Classical section. It has arena and stadium rock written all over it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not qualified to speak super intelligently about music theory and musicianship, so I’ll just say this: It’s really f**king great. Donnie and Max are in fantastic form together. Oh, and good luck getting Max’s bass line out of your head; talk about an earworm.

Sure, you can feel Warner Records’ influence on the song, from the track length to the production and more. But “Angel” remains undeniably a Gang of Youths song, a pulsating, heart-on-its-sleeve love song that sits very comfortably on my list of favorites right alongside “Deepest Sighs,” “Heart Is A Muscle,” and “Still Unbeaten Life.”

The track ends with Dave repeating “there’s heaven in you now” (14 times if you’re curious). Although he spends most of the song singing to his wife, I believe Dave is singing to and about himself here. Joy is hard for anyone to capture in song, but it’s perhaps especially tough for Dave, who’s spent most of the first two albums writing about pain. So it’s all the more poignant that on “Angel,” he’s telling us what’s filling his heart now… and this heaven is no shallow kind of bliss.

I can’t help but imagine Dave thumping his fist on his heart as he sings that lyric in concert and the song builds to its crescendo. And I wanna be right there in the room with him, doing the same.

There’s heaven in here now, indeed.

Gang of Youths announces London headline gig

In addition to releasing its new single, “The Angel of 8th Ave.” today, Gang of Youths has announced a headlining gig later this summer.

It’ll happen on August 12 at Lafayette in London. There’s a fan presale happening right now and lasting until Friday, June 18. The general ticket onsale starts at 10 am local time on Friday.

News of the gig went out via email to fans who’ve joined the Gang of Youths mailing list. The email describes the gig as “a small, one-off show” and included a unique code for fans to access the presale.

As always, you can follow all the upcoming Gang of Youths gigs right here on DS.