September Girls’ press bio says they named themselves after “a Big Star song via the Bangles.” Not sure where that lands them on the clued-in meter (I love both bands, so don’t ask me), but suffice it to say, it probably seems really cool to even know who either band is to a young woman growing up in a small town in Ireland right now. To their friends, September Girls are no doubt the coolest girls in the room. To many music scroungers in America, they might seem like a classic case of a U.K. band dressing up and confidently pouring out a sound we’ve been compiling over here for the last decade—in this case that whole cooing vox, bouffant girl group melody, J&MChain distorted surf guitar, tribal drumming, wrapped in Spector-sonics garage pop. But there is nothing wrong with doing something well. Many times, U.K. acts, as opposed to often insecure, lo-fi “authenticity”-adhering U.S. indie bands, aspire to work hard on their songs and aim for a focused look—you know, being a band. September Girls are most definitely a band.
Friends with their Irish homies, PINS (whose cassette label released a September Girls tape last year), this combo is the mistier side of that fruitful friendship coin. These Girls share a similar shadowy, midnight mood, but theirs is a sound that starts to drift off to dreamland around 2 a.m., rather than ordering another pint and scheming for a scuffle. Overall, more guitar layers cluster and staccato guitar lines jut just a bit (Left Behind, Secret Lovers). Raveonettes-like alley rundowns drive by (Money), and the sinister riff that trudges through Sister is nearly gothic. But in a pinch, September Girls will have PINS’ proverbial back. Heartbeats is thick mascara-streaked trash, and Ships recalls the messier ‘90s sides of garage gals like April March and Holly Golightly.
While the somewhat more structured production is appreciated given the ubiquitous haze of this style, some oddball tweaks would help color the vampy vibe, like the trash can drums and throbbing rhythms of Talking and the haunted house organ wedging into Green Eyed.
Lyrically, as any fan of this sub-genre knows, it’s up to you, your drug of choice, or general mood towards your ex that will pull what it wants (can?) from the wash of whoosh. As in Another Love Song, knowing, cynical barbs about the possibilities of lasting romance are abundant, but the majority of Cursing The Sea‘s sky-high swelling music belies any simplistic sarcastic pose.
This latest iteration of gauzy grrrl garage rock does the sound right by tightening the hooks and adding more forceful rhythm. That hazy, dead-eyed, disaffected thing gets tiresome pretty quick. So here’s to pint-heaving, rain-dashing Irish lasses to make it a little more agitated.