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Formed in 2011, September Girls are known for blending shoegaze, garage rock and psychedelia and topping it up with 60s pop-like vocals. ‘Age of Indignation’ is their second album, and the first one recorded fully in a professional studio. The follow up to ‘Cursing the Sea’, September Girls‘ well-received 2014 debut, is ambitious and heavy, both in the sound and lyrical content. It shows a band taking a stance, and bluntly addressing politically charged subjects.

September Girls never avoided incorporating eerie elements to their music, but while ‘Cursing the Sea’ belonged to the sunny West Coast surf rock scene, the gloomy sound of ‘Age of Indignation’ has much more in common with UK post-punk. The haziness of the first album is replaced by a sense of diligence and bleakness, indicated on the 2014 EP ‘Veneer’. While shoegaze-inspired distortion remains the backbone to September Girls‘ music, this time, instead of 60s sugary pop melodies, the vocals are more of ghostly chants. Similarly, the keyboard sound now is less psychedelic and more gothic and the rhythmic section is starker than ever.

From the acidic guitar riff in the intro to ‘Ghost’, the album is full of moments which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Joy Division or a Chameleons record.  ‘Jaw on the Floor’, with guest vocals from A Place to Bury Strangers‘ Oliver Ackermann, ‘Salvation’ and ‘Wolves’ are all sinister-sounding in their slowly-burning, persistent pace.

‘Catholic Guilt’ works well as the album’s centrepiece; based on the interplay between an eerie incantation and racing guitar riffs it is both triumphant and menacing. ‘Blue Eyes’, ‘Age of Indignation’, ‘Love No One’, and ‘John of Gods’ are hard-hitting and loud. ‘Quicksand’ uses the jangly guitar sound and cold synths to achieve an atmosphere similar to The Cure at their darkest.

This dense sound heavily relies on the band’s diligence and accuracy. Guitarists Caoimhe Derwin and Jessie Ward O’Sullivan’s create a sense of tension where necessary and balance each other on calmer tracks. The guitars are perfectly framed by Sarah Grimes’ unwavering drumming and throbbing baselines by Paula Cullen, and the mood of the songs is set by church-styled organs or mechanic synths, all provided by the keyboardist Lauren Kerchner.

This unsettling atmosphere of the record works as an apt background for its themes. ‘Age of Indignation’ is a surprisingly political record which fulfills its promise and conveys the resentment and displeasure it points to. September Girls address problems of our times but also go further and tackle a centuries-old history of oppression.

The album’s preoccupation with religion is suggested by song titles such as ‘Catholic Guilt’ and ‘Salvation’, and indeed, ‘Age of Indignation’ offers a critique of the institution of Catholic Church delivered through a feminist lens. The political songs address issues concerning the band’s native Ireland (specifically, ‘Jaw on the Floor’ relates to 1916 Rising) but can be read universally. The title refers directly to the second theme explored by September Girls, which is the impact of social media on human relations tackled in ‘Love No One’ and the title track.

Adapting a detached and haunting tone and relying on poignant slogans rather than elaborate storylines, September Girls manage to avoid sounding overly preachy or banal, which can be a pitfall of bands attempting on political commentary. Because the band members share the vocal duties and often sing in harmonies, the accusations voiced in the songs seem to be uttered by a whole unearthly choir, rather than an individual, which adds an interesting element to the theme of indignation.

With ‘Age of Indignation’, September Girls use their ability to create atmospheric tracks as a vehicle for important statements and manage to deliver a record rich both in the substance and style. It shows that it is possible to incorporate serious themes while working within genres which, to some extent, are focused on being disconnected from reality.

‘Age of Indignation’ is out on 8th April 2016 via Fortuna POP!

About The Author

Klaudia Januszewska

Arts Management student, post-punk enthusiast. I organise my life around concerts. I like all the things connected to Andy Warhol's Silver Factory and Factory Records. The Smiths changed my life.