Uh oh. Miks usually beats me to Gang of Youths posts but finally it’s me with a handful of sentences to try and explain why I can’t stop caring about what these dudes do. Could get gushy, you should brace.
Well if you put a gun to my head and asked me what the best art looks like, I would:
1. Suspect that’s not really your question. Because, you know, the gun.
2. Quickly pick a serious answer in a spike of panic (probably as you start squeezing the trigger), and blurt out: “just a human, easily seen.”
I realise that would be an awkward thing to say and I would still get shot. But it could be true and more importantly I think Dave Le’aupepe is a vivid example of this very thing.
Not so much in his press persona, where he is unpredictable and cut-throat honest, but still oddly mysterious. I mean there’s a whole other piece in that. But I’m talking songs.
‘Benevolence Riots‘ shows new colours sonically – there’s a flip to a resigned vocal that cuts through a surprisingly snappy song structure. But the key element for me is stronger than ever – the unusually deep heart. By heart I guess I mean that it has these undertones to it. Like a messy collision of many things I grapple quietly with myself, but spread out loudly in a spectacular, tragic, desperate, beautiful way.
For example, I get washed around from intelligent altruism to resigned devotion, dark cynicism to desperate hope, blue collar clarity to the confusion of human greatness, equality, craftsmanship, earning, failure and most of all: the deep unspeakable grind and reward of costly human relationships.
Heavy, complex, yes. And maybe I am too much of a fan to write this – but if you put this with their other songs to date, I swear all that stuff is in there.
It’s mostly Dave we’re seeing, though like most great bands I sense that the other guys have more to do with us hearing this stuff than we’ll ever know. Certainly these are an oddball bunch in their own right, possibly bonded now both as fun loving bros and more like actual brothers who have spent 2 years on a kicking bull together. That part you can feel live. But I’m digressing.
For mine, I’d take these songs straight. Like, neat. Raw on one of those prison cafeteria trays. Thus I’m not craving any more shimmer or dressing than we get here. But it is rather lovely shimmer, so I don’t mind if we get a lush record. As long as they keep Dave’s ‘easily seen heart’, I’m in.
Have I explained myself well? Maybe not. I still don’t really understand why I love this band so much. But I’ll say this – if we do get the album that these songs point at (next year?) I’ll be buying a physical copy so I can keep it near to me when I sleep. Music, hey.
I read the book White Fang as a kid, and cried a fair bit. I think it was when Scott tried to make White Fang stay behind by pretending to hate him, though he was the first person White Fang ever trusted. Or if that didn’t happen, it should have. This story is nearly irrelevant, except to agree that the brooding intrigue of that White Fang character is probably a decent reference for this project.
Mystery girl Whyte Fang has been trickling out originals for a little while, it’s interesting to see the movement and the confidence changing. If you’re into Australian house music you may remember her from a Lancelot track last year, but the fit is more natural with her own aesthetic in my opinion. Her new jam ‘Heart’ keeps the cloudy sound and restrained wavering voice, but gives us a greater peek behind that carefully maintained curtain.
Her melodies in this one are more pop, it skips along at a Haim-like pace, but they are bent around the edges in a way that makes you unsure of what sits behind them. The sound is still that kind of hollow “is it electronic or organic” rhythm-heavy atmosphere. I’ve seen other blogs drop the Knife comparisons – while not as creepy, there is definitely something of that oddness in there that adds a wary depth.
So the Knife producing Haim. It would seem that’s the fragile familiarity link I’ve decided to clutch at, in combination with a cherished novel from my childhood. It doesn’t really capture it, but hopefully it’s enticement enough to make you curiously click that play button.