Gang of Youths are fifty shades of fucked. Hold up, stay with us here. Don’t go typing on your Tumblr about how your old mate Rye Rye is ripping into your new favourite band. Keep your head straight, they’re my new favourite band as well. Shut your trap, listen up. There’s good stuff going on here, you just need to keep reading.
As we all know, the word ‘fuck’, being the glorious word it is, has about a million different connotations and meanings behind it. In this scenario, the Sydney group known as Gang of Youths employ a mere fifty of them. Impressive, especially when none of these connotations are in the negative.
The first of many of these ‘fucks’ are exclaimed over and over again, with slack-jawed awe, at the sheer goodness and scope of the songs available on ‘The Positions’, their debut record. As someone who finds this absolutely bloody hilarious, the knee-jerk reaction to seeing something released on a major label is to balk, scoff and think of the closest adjective to ‘shit’ that one can apply to the band. But Gang of Youths are too solid, too resonating in their ability to craft a great song. Over the course of nearly an hour, Gang of Youths hammer home some of the most enticing indie-rock that man is capable of wringing to life. I, the epitome of ignorance, has somehow come round to adoring a major-label group. That’s fucked, right?
But it’s not really. Gang of Youths have made a brilliant fucking album, and to deride that would be to shit on the face of good music. This here record carries heartbreak with poise; evocative, emotional songwriting uplifted through crystal production. Each guitar riff is like the distilled waters of Babylon, each chorus a shout along moment. There’s plenty to celebrate here, from the belying anthem of “Radioface”, to the thumping shuffle of “Poison Drum”, to the spine-tingling keystrokes of “Restraint & Release”. There’s not a song on here that doesn’t hit squarely, with a particularly unique force for an indie rock album. That’s fucked, right?
Once again, not really. The story behind ‘The Positions’ isn’t exactly one that can be applied to many. A marriage that’s been born beneath cancer, and then dissolved. Fuck, even typing that is like a weight getting dropped onto one’s back, like those anvils from Looney Tunes cartoons. The more you peer into the lyrics of the songs on ‘The Positions’, the more the powerful facade of the band fades, and the more you want to receive a giant fucking hug. The song “Magnolia” is a perfect example – bright, simmering guitars mingle with strings, and there’s a bold chorus that makes you want to raise your fist in the fucking air, and chant some goddamn lyrics! But those lyrics are, “There’s no way to lie, as far as I know/if heaven won’t take me, then I’m staggering home”. It’s about a suicide attempt. That’s fucked, right?
For a final fucking time, no, not really. ‘The Positions’ is astonishing in its honesty. But more than that, it’s astonishing in its ability to connect so easily. It’s a brave, soulful record, that puts everything on the line, and does it well, with everything perfectly in measure. To go through what this band has gone through, and come out the other side with such a raw, pure and excellent album…that’s shit that doesn’t happen. Nope, that’s fucked. That’s truly fucked. This record is completely fucked, in the best way possible. It’s fifty shades of fucked, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Do yourself a favour, and get a copy of this record. Or see Gang of Youths at Oxford Art Factory on Friday 15th May.