It’s no secret that we’re excited for Gang of Youths’ new album angel in realtime (which arrives this Friday via Warner Records), and the Australian group have treated us to one last preview of the record with final single “spirit boy.” The track features Shane McLean, a specialist in Taonga Puoro—the traditional music culture of the Maori people—contributing spoken word . The song’s instrumentation pays tribute to frontman Dave Le’aupepe’s M?ori heritage while also featuring the personal lyrics which have served as the connective tissue between all of the angel in realtime tracks we’ve heard so far.
Opening with the line “God died today,” “spirit boy” once again sees Le’aupepe grappling with the world around him, searching for the moments of beauty he can salvage from the wreckage of his everyday life. “You raise me up now / and pull me out my mind / you fill me with significance / that I cannot describe,” he sings following McLean’s spoken world interlude, melting into the strings and sound effects that allow the track to morph into something larger than life and universal, even with the deeply personal touches scattered throughout.
Speaking in a press release about the song, Le’aupepe recalled how his heritage shaped the writing and recording process:
“We were fortunate to have Shane McLean, an outstanding musician and Taonga Puoro facilitator, write and perform a spoken verse in Te Reo Maori. A wonderful M?ori woman performed “rongo?” on me — a sacred healing practice. It was a transformative experience, and I’m still not quite sure why. There was a moment when this wonderful woman looked at me and said “you’re a wairua boy” — wairua in Te Reo means something like “spirit”.
Gang of Youths are gearing up for a North American tour to promote angel in realtime in April, kicking the whole thing off in Madison, WI and ending the first leg Tulsa, OK before returning in September for the second leg, which will end in Sacramento, CA. You can check out the full list of dates here.
You can check out the official lyric video for “spirit boy” below.