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Gang of Youths are ready for big things. Their debut album, The Positions, practically demands it, with songs no doubt set, to one day, fill stadiums.
Starting out gentler than their band name suggests, each song builds, slowly swelling until they eventually splinter out at the ends. With his deep, raw voice singer Dave Le’aupepe sways between sounding a lot like Springsteen and a lot like Bono (or both on The Diving Bell), but there are enough moments where he transcends either of these comparisons to keep the album fresh.
The songs are long and sprawling but never overstay their welcome. Moods and tempos shift, confidently lead by Le’aupepe’s vocals that crackle with intensity. Gang of Youths thrive on emotionally-driven big ballads that are cinematic in feel – think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco, Kings of Leon and Elbow.
Dense, richly textured and with layers of soaring guitars, strings, glistening synths, lingering piano riffs and pockets of glitch the tracks on The Positions sprawl through numerous realms of sound.
Pensive opener Vital Signs has a light Americana feel while a jerky new wave riff holds Poison Drum together. The rougher Restraint & Release is underpinned by a dirty guitar line offset by zapping synths and tight dance drums, a reoccurring element throughout the album.
Hidden towards the end, sparse lyrically-driven piano ballad Knuckles White Dry is the album’s tearjerker, while the shimmering Radioface echoes early U2.
Produced by Kevin McMahon (Swans, Titus Andronicus, Swans, Real Estate), The Positions is slick yet its finite attention to detail helps to create intimacy that cuts through the gloss.