Ivy League Records is incredibly excited to announce the return of legendary Sydney band, Youth Group! The cult outfit, best known for their worldwide hit & 4x platinum single Forever Young, will release their first album in ten years titled Australian Halloween, lead by the LP’s first single Cusp – out everywhere now!
To celebrate the release of Australian Halloween, the band will reunite for three intimate East Coast Shows kicking off in Melbourne at the Northcote Social Club (Fri 8 Nov) followed by The Foundry in Brisbane (Fri 15 Nov) and finishing in Sydney at The Lansdowne (Sat 16 Nov).
After forming in the late 1990s, the four-piece released four critically acclaimed albums – Urban & Eastern (2001), Skeleton Jar (2004), Casino Twilight Dogs (2006) and The Night Is Ours (2008). The band achieved major worldwide success with the release of hit single Forever Young, an Alphaville cover which was recorded for the soundtrack of the US drama series, The O.C. The now 4x platinum single reached #1 on the ARIA Singles Chart & won the band the 2006 ARIA Award for Breakthrough Single.
As with most of the material from Youth Group’s forthcoming fifth record, lead single Cusp was written in an abandoned laundromat in Huddersfield, a post-industrial town in the north of England. Having relocated to the UK with his young family, chief songwriter and singer/guitarist Toby Martin rented the space expecting to write a very English solo record. Instead what came out was a body of work that not only felt distinctly like a Youth Group album, but was largely concerned with Australia and missing home.
Cusp however was the anomaly. Martin had only been in the UK for 9 months by the time of the Brexit referendum and the song is his response to finding himself in a town, in a country, in a world that seemed increasingly divided and teetering on the brink.
“‘Cusp’ is really about me moving to England and the Brexit referendum and how claustrophobic it felt around that time. On one hand it was personally exciting to move to a new country and have a fresh start, but there’s also a sarcasm to it, y’know being on the “cusp of something”. Especially at the time of Brexit and how shit that all seemed. This idea of cheering for England and making it great again. The town I lived in was very mixed politically. I’d always been in this very inner-west Sydney bubble and all of a sudden I was living next to people with very different ideas about the world to me. If I wasn’t living there, I would’ve been mystified by Brexit or how Trump happened, but having lived there I’m like, “Oh I get it. I know what they’re thinking now.” It’s good for you, but also a shock.”
Recorded at Hercules Studios in Surry Hills with producer and long-time friend Wayne Connolly, the song juxtaposes weighty lyrical content alongside a skipping rhythm, shimmering guitars and an effortlessly delivered hook. Cusp is classic Youth Group and a welcome return from one of Australia’s finest indie-rock groups.
Even though the band had never officially called it a day, it had been almost ten years since Youth Group had released new music and Martin wasn’t sure if they would make another record. But hearing these songs pour out of him in the humble laundromat, that all changed. “It really wasn’t what I was expecting,” he says. “But once I had these tunes I was like, ‘Well maybe we should do another Youth Group record then’.”
Rather than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, the impetus for Australian Halloween has all come from the music. “I don’t write a huge amount of songs,” Martin says. “And each song is really important to me. It’s not something I just toss out and we certainly wouldn’t have made an album unless these songs had emerged. It’s driven by the music first and foremost.”
If the music is first, then friendship is a very close second. With band members scattered across the globe; drummer Danny Allen now based in Miami, Martin teaching in the UK and guitarist Cameron Emerson-Elliot and bassist Patrick Matthews living and working in Sydney, making Australian Halloween became a way to maintain their friendship while on different continents.
The result is arguably Youth Group’s best work to date. Across Australian Halloween’s ten carefully crafted tracks, the band manage to combine the carefree spiritedness of the earliest days of the band with the sophisticated songwriting and arrangement skills that they’ve gained from almost twenty years playing together.
Album out Friday 11 October through
Ivy League Records
Available to pre-order here
And they will play together again for East Coast Australian audiences this November! Tickets on sale now…
Check more of Youth Group…