In September Girls’ five-year existence, they have achieved a significant amount and it is a testament to how hard they work. Appearances at SXSW and CMJ, tours of the US & UK, two EP’s, two full-length albums and mentions/rave review’s from The Irish Times, The Guardian, Time Magazine and Pitchfork.
How the band found time to also write, play and release music with other side projects (gritty, garage band “Cruising”, are definitely worth checking out) is beyond me. Luckily for us though, they have found the time to do all this and they have just released a belter of an album, with Age Of Indignation.
Most bands will spend their formative years finding their own sound. Learning how the other members of the band play, what does and doesn’t work, finding your own voice and merging it with the individual voices of each band member. Taking this into consideration, it would be fair to say September Girls’ sound has progressed as opposed to changed in their short lifespan.
On earlier releases, the foot tapping rhythms and summery melodies may have taken prominence but resting behind them is an almost menacing feeling, utilizing overdriven fuzzy guitars and moments of dissonance. This underbelly of dangerous importance is at the forefront of Age Of Indignation, an album layered with sentiments of frustration and apathetic fuelled anger towards a number of issues. A quick look at the track list of the album – ‘Catholic Guilt’, ‘Salvation’, ‘John Of Gods’ – will provoke thoughts in the minds of Irish listeners before hearing any music.
Getting to the music, September Girls packed in their previous go-to of home recording and instead took residence in Dublin’s Orphan Studio giving this release a fuller, larger sound while still retaining their lo-fi, garage feel they have become known for.
Opening track ‘Ghost’ takes its time to develop as it slowly builds and reaches a crescendo with faded screams and howls. It is a hypnotic opener and although over six minutes long somehow manages to feel concise. ‘Jaw On The Floor’ leans more towards rough, abrasive garage rock but holds onto September Girls’ psychedelic elements with reverb laden vocals and a guest spot from Oliver Ackermann (A Place To Bury Strangers) for added texture. ‘Catholic Guilt’ confronts feelings of repression and control as a melancholic intro and verse give way for a guitar riff that is as vicious as it is wonderful, while the lyrics spit “you put us in this vessel, built from years of blind aggression”.
Sonically Age Of Indignation ticks all the right boxes. Its lo-fi yet high-end production value delivers a great sounding record that misses out on that tinny sound that sometimes comes with lo-fi releases. Each track is as strong as the one before it and it becomes very easy to lose a few hours, listening over and over again. There are no lulls in the record, it is a constant barrage and perhaps this would tire some listeners out, but to take this solely as a musical release would, for me, be missing the point.
As musicians, September Girls have nothing to prove to anyone. Whether it’s through September Girls or one of their many other projects, the quintet are all clearly talented musicians and this record is a statement on the issues facing Irish people today. The last ten years in Ireland has been turbulent to say the least, with moments of hope and despair. Whether it’s been the recession, LGBT rights, women’s rights, homelessness or scandal after scandal, the Irish people are dealing with this while still struggling with the repression of the Catholic Church. We have seen other bands emerge from this hodgepodge of emotions. Girl Band, for one, are the product of (what September Girls have aptly named), an age of indignation and it’s becoming more and more apparent just how important they and other bands such as September Girls are.