Gang of Youths have this knack, where their songs sound a bit like Bruce Springsteen, but they get you right in the heart in a way The Boss won’t do. ‘The Man Himself’ follows in the same finely crafted tradition. Still present are the Australian five piece’s trademark violins, piano and stadium guitar over a supersonic drum beat, here complimented by recordings of an Indigenous Pacific choir’s worship song, used to pay tribute to ‘The Man Himself’, frontman Dave Le’aupepe’s father who died from cancer in 2018.
The words are an emotional punch to the ribs, dealing with the long-lasting, confusing experience of grief, the singer turning to a portrait of his dad for “sage advice”, the uneasy awareness of “I don’t know what to feel, I don’t know how to feel right”, becoming resigned to the hope of taking “A single step at a simple pace, and the outward momentum will maybe unfuck you in time”, wanting to be a different kind of father to his kid but knowing the similarity may run too deep to diverge.
The Man Himself is the latest sampler from Gang of Youths’ upcoming as-yet-untitled third album, after the ‘Total Serene’ EP.