Be fearful, competition, because this Dublin noise-pop quintet have just released one of the contenders for album of the year
Two years ago they were called one of the 11 best new bands in the world by Time magazine, following the release of their acclaimed debut album Cursing The Sea. Now Dublin noise-pop quintet September Girls return with their much anticipated second album, and the hope that they can move up a level.
It starts extremely promisingly, the grimly infectious Ghost sounding like Veronica Falls slowed to a funeral march through an abandoned fairground, andthe chugging Jaw On The Floor (which takes the feminist movement and the 1916 uprising in Ireland as its inspiration) hinting at genuine terror. This gruesome and chilly tone, punctured by tortured psychedelia, sets the mood for much of what follows. Catholic Guilt betrays the influence of Siouxsie & The Banshees, while the title track is like the bastard child of Come As You Are and Jack Off Jill.
You might expect the bleakness and blackness to abate. You’d be wrong – very wrong, but happily so. Love No One is as nihilistic as its title suggests, while the pulverising yet soaring Salvation offers nothing of the sort. The album’s final third keeps the faith in the quintet’s brilliant formula, with John Of Gods a dirge-ridden storm and Quicksand mixing and matching The Cure’s Faith and The Head On The Door, before the foreboding closer Wolves drops you abruptly on the floor, head in hands.
“as comforting as uncomfortable listening can be”
Age Of Indignation is as comforting as uncomfortable listening can be. Foregoing obvious hooks for unforgiving riffs that make a beeline for your skull and melodies as haunting as cemetery fog, you’ll find yourself humming these songs as winter frost glues your eyelids shut. Given their commitment to democratic songwriting – with the writing shared between each of September Girls’ five members – it’s something of a surprise to find just how consistent the sound and quality of the songs is throughout the record. Therein lies the secret of its success.
This is a brilliant album by five extremely talented writers who are completely in tune with each other’s strengths, and possessed of a collective will that’s taking them beyond their peers. Don’t expect this album to provide you with extra zip when you hit play, but do be certain that you’ll discover a record you’ll return to over and over again.
Verdict: Gloomy, terrifying, enthralling, magnificent