Named after a Big Star song (albeit with a slightly different spelling) Dublin all-girl quintet September Girls have been steadily unleashing limited edition releases since 2012 and, as previously revealed in our ’14 for ‘14’ series, these girls are clearly ones to watch.
Formed in 2011, the band has been described as The Bangles playing raw shoegazey garage-pop, aiming for (in their own words) “fuzzy noise-pop with lots of reverb and loud drums”. The Bangles actually covered the song in question, the result being a considerably slower, more polished effort than anything to be found on Cursing The Sea. Throughout the album, the raw sound, high-tempo and lo-fi production makes a lasting impression.
A number of the limited edition releases have also made their way to the album, with two songs from 2012 EPs included along with two from 2013, including the Cassette Store Day effort from September, Ships. With the various singles and EPs having been released on a number of different labels, perhaps one of the main themes of the album – insecurity – is partly the result of an ever-shifting ‘home’. And it’s almost as if the reverb-drenched vocals the girls favour are used as a protective shield around these inner insecurities.
Built around a simple, spiky guitar line, the sub-two minute title track opens proceedings with catchy vocal melodies and persistent drums forming the basis of a raw, intriguing introduction. Eastern sounding, simplistic guitar notes lead into Chrissie Hynde-like chorus warblings for Another Love Song, sounding a little like Siouxsie And The Banshees in the process before a slow, stripped down four-note guitar line introduces the pounding drums and racing rhythm guitar of Left Behind. The echoey vocals (that remain a constant throughout) sound so drenched in reverb that they must have been recorded in an echo chamber, producing something weirdly resembling the sugar coated sickly sweetness of Strawberry Switchblade attempting to play early material from The Cure.
Heavily distorted vocals adorn the catchy foot-tapper Heartbeats to provide a standout moment before an almost Interpol-like guitar line is injected into the mix for one of the 2012 releases, Green Eyed. With the chorus recalling Ladytron, the track is given a darker, more atmospheric presence that’s boosted by eerie church organs and a much heavier fuzzy bass. The impressive Ships then sails into focus with an extended up-tempo instrumental section boasting repetitive, pounding drums and raw, reverb-laced guitar and more fuzz from Paula Cullen’s bass.
Talking benefits from more high pitched, catchy church organ and vocal melodies, but things slow down for the spine-chilling Daylight as the fuzz-pop takes a slight detour with another excellent organ solo stealing the limelight. Money sports a doomy guitar line and fuzzy bass before the catchy guitar-driven chorus appears; the punkier Someone New bursts into life after the dreariness of Daylight to produce something akin to The Raveonettes.
Secret Lovers is a rather unremarkable number, with the treble-heavy sound and unexciting chorus perhaps yearning for the fuzz bass to be amped up to max. Sister then closes the album with the missing bass from Secret Lovers introducing itself a little late to the party, driving the track along with its incessant pounding before tribal drums appear alongside raucous, reverb-heavy guitar and sweet, innocent sounding vocals to help deliver another highlight.
Cursing The Sea is an enjoyable listen from start to finish; whilst not possessing anything in the way of a number one single, the rawness and lo-fi feel will appeal to many. Occasionally there are moments that recall the majesty of The Jesus And Mary Chain on a lo-fi scale and there is plenty of evidence here to suggest that September Girls could be on their way to creating something as essential as a Reid brothers masterpiece.