Review: Gang Of Youths Drop Surprise EP, an Emotive 3-Tracker Called ‘total serene’

Gang of Youths total serene
Gang of Youths release 'total serene' - Photo by Amy Heycock

Gang Of Youths has surprised fans with the release of their 3-track EP called total serene, introducing a new, peaceful sound to their repertoire. While the recording opens with the jovial upbeat track “the angel of 8th avenue,” the aptly-named “serene” part of the title does kick in and the new music represents a sweeping and melodic departure from the band’s previous work.

The Australians who relocated to swinging London town in 2017 have apparently been deeply impacted by their new lifestyle. Frontman David Le’aupepe’s voice has acquired maturity as he seamlessly guides the smooth tapestry of sound across his many emotions and yearnings. 

total serene comes on the heels of Gang Of Youths’ announcement of a UK tour in August and September and follows Gang Of Youths’ previous work, their four-time ARIA Award-winning second album Go Farther In Lightness.

Opener “the angel of 8th ave” takes the listener along as GOY escourts listeners down London’s city streets, in a jovial manner reminiscent of The Cure’s “In Between Days.” Unfortunately, this complex and upbeat track does come to an end, but leads into the romantic Elbow cover “asleep in the back.” Le’aupepe’s emotive and lovestruck vocals evoke all the wonder and vulnerability of a child delivered into a new world. The song is gentle and leads with light acoustic guitar that accents the innocence of a music box waltz. 

Gang of Youths – Photo by Amy Heycock

“We love Elbow and we thought it was thematically relevant,” he says. “It couldn’t have been anything other than ‘Asleep in the Back,’” Le’aupepe said.

“unison,” introduces the sounds of the beach and the banjo to an orchestrated samba of indigenous Pacific music, building to a jazzy freefall of modern brass and ancient chanting and percussion 

‘unison’ is a deeply important track for us that really signals where the music is headed on the new record,” Le’aupepe said. “I conceived the song in Samoa, my ancestral homeland. Here we sample and introduce the work of David Fanshawe, who travelled to the Pacific Islands in the 1980s and recorded the most extensive library of indigenous Pacific music anywhere in the world.”

Gang of Youths is comprised of Max Dunn on bass, Jung Kim on guitar and keyboards, Donnie Borzestowski on drums and Tom Hobden on keyboards, guitar and violin. The band produced the total serene EP in its own studio space in London. The title references the “head space” that Le’aupepe has longed for all his life.

Gang of Youths – Photo by Amy Heycock

Gang of Youths put on a compelling live performance which is worth seeking out. In addition to the UK tour, the band will join Sam Fender’s upcoming arena tour. GOY have announced their own headline tour of the UK for August and September 2021. If all goes well the band will also play U.S. dates shortly after.

For UK Tour Dates go here. 

Gang of Youths has been around since 2011 and has amassed a strong following all over the world. Their albums are The Positions (2015) and Go Farther In Lightness (2017). GOY is a staple on the festival circuit having played events from Splendour In The Grass to Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

total serene tracklist:

  1. “the angel of 8th ave.”
  2. “asleep In The back”
  3. “unison”
total serene by Gang Of Youths


Watch “the angel of 8th ave.” here: