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Gang of Youths – “Say Yes to Life”

Few modern bands are able to express the simplest of ideas with as much sincerity and passion as the Australian quintet Gang of Youths.  When frontman David Le’aupepe sings one of my all-time favorite lyrics, “And it’s strange, all the things that I’ve run from / Are the things that completeness could come from” on the slow-burning ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’, I see the twenty-year-old-me rejecting happiness at every turn, favoring a self-destructive lifestyle over accepting maturity and adulthood.  When he sings that he “feels everything” on ‘Fear and Trembling’, only to follow that up by admitting that he’s “terrified of loving” because he’s “terrified of pain”,  I feel the heartbreak in his voice and it makes me look inwards at my own insecurities.  Isn’t that the way all the best bands are?  They somehow put into words everything you’d write if you could, and then sing it plainly and beautifully.

Now, take that idea and multiply it on ‘Say Yes to Life’, possibly the most optimistic and affirming rock anthem to come out since Springsteen was still rollicking in his heyday.  Le’aupepe immediately reaches out to his listeners and engages them, putting himself in our shoes: “If I could reach out through the screen and give you something to believe in I would / But I’m with you in amongst the confusion.”  To quickly intensifying drumming, he spews messages of hope through his own obviously less-than-desirable experiences, eventually offering a hand to those who find themselves in a pit of depression with emotional assists like “Do not let this one end before you emerge as the winner”, “It’s ok not to be so alright, but don’t be alone”, and the dramatically shouted apex “Say yes to love, say yes to life!”  These times are too goddamn depressing to be anything other than forward-looking, and here Gang of Youths manage to present us with an honest and relatable guiding light that doesn’t sound the slightest bit feigned.  There’s no one else who could play this song like they do and achieve the same results.  It makes you want to raise your fist and be part of a cause, to refuse defeat and to battle through life’s bleakest moments with a sense of integrity and purpose.  What a gift.

Read more from this decade at my homepage for Sowing’s Songs of the Decade.





SowingSeason
03.07.19
One of three songs from that album that could easily make this list.

WatchItExplode
03.07.19
Been revisiting this lately. Still incredible.

Green Baron
03.07.19
this song is the worst on the album

bgillesp
03.07.19
Achilles Come Down is my pick but still good

SowingSeason
03.07.19
"this song is the worst on the album"
I know I'm usually all about freedom of opinions, but this is objectively wrong.

Sunnyvale
03.07.19
Let Me Down Easy is my favorite. Nice write up

SowingSeason
03.08.19
Achilles and Let Me Down Easy are both decent but the big 3 I was referencing were Fear and Trembling, Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane, and Say Yes to Life.

WatchItExplode
03.08.19
I don't think Say Yes to Life is the worst song on the album but I do think it should have ended on The Deepest Sighs...

Slex
03.08.19
The Good Fight>>>>>
Say Yes and Fear And Trembling are close behind tho honestly

SowingSeason
03.08.19
But Say Yes to Life is the most appropriately cathartic conclusion this album could have possibly had.

bgillesp
03.08.19
Yeah, Say Yes is a great closer. It’s top 4 on the album for me for sure

whywontyoudie
03.08.19
good to see you still actively writing on here, Sowing. haven't been on here in years but i randomly decided to check in.

zakalwe
03.08.19
Fucking useless

ProjectFreak
03.08.19
Say yes to this song being on the list y'all, just try hearing it live

I still might have gone with Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane but this is so cathartic I can't really disagree with you

Piglet
03.08.19
nahnah nah

atlas drowned jungs

SowingSeason
03.08.19
thx whywontyoudie, cool to see a familiar face!
@PF I'd love to hear it live I bet it kills

ProjectFreak
03.11.19
you can probably guess what line Dave lets the crowd sing in unison

JesusCage
03.11.19
Would like to see it live.. it is an anthem.

SowingSeason
03.11.19
anthem is definitely the right descriptor for this

neekafat
03.13.19
‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’ fucks me up big time, good pick here

SowingSeason
03.13.19
yeah it was between those 2 with Fear and Trembling a close 3rd

BigHans
03.15.19
Album of the decade.

SowingSeason
03.15.19
will definitely be on my decade list, somewhere

ProjectFreak
03.15.19
I only have 4 5's from this decade and this is one of them for sure

BigHans
03.15.19
I remember the first time I heard this. I was absolutely floored. I reviewed it hard the day it came out.

ProjectFreak
03.15.19
this album's excellence is both immediately apparent and subtle enough to merit infinite re-listens

i have no idea how they can come close to reaching these heights again

SowingSeason
03.15.19
I know what you mean. It's rare for an album to be immediately accessible/digestible yet still have enough layers to warrant hundreds of more listens. That's how I feel about most of my favorite bands: Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, The Dear Hunter, The National, Fleet Foxes, etc. These guys are definitely in the same boat and that's amazing company to be in.

melltuga
03.19.19
"but the big 3 I was referencing were Fear and Trembling, Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane, and Say Yes to Life. "

Really, no love for "the heart is a muscle"?
Ah, I guess it's just really hard to pick a definit favorite here :D

dmathias52
03.22.19
Going through your playlist and for some reason I’ve never given this band more than a cursory listen. And oh man, that definitely seems like a mistake

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