“Expectation” they say “is the root of all heartache” but having followed Dublin five piece September Girls from their early days we did expect great things from their début album ‘Cursing The Sea.’ Formed in September 2011 by ex members of Talulah Does The Hula and The Chalets we’ve witnessed September Girls steadily evolve as a unit via live performances and a clutch of impressive single releases. However even we didn’t anticipate just how ridiculously wonderful their début would actually be!
‘Cursing The Sea’ combines the glittering shimmer of classic 4AD/Creation Records shoegaze legends of yore with ghostly Goth girl- group harmonies, layered guitars, tribal beats and even a whiff of the dark menace of Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Album opener and title track ‘Cursing The Sea’ sounds so reminiscent of Lush you’d swear Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson were in the studio, whilst ‘Another Love Song’ and ‘Left Behind’ are object lessons in yearning dark beauty. Singles ‘Green Eyed” Talking’ ‘Heartbeats’ and ‘Ships’ prove once more why this band have generated such a buzz and album closer ‘Sister’ in many ways encapsulates all that is great about these Dublin ladies. A surging battery of agitated guitars swirl like angry wasps around the listener immersing the senses in a shimmering gauzy wash as an unsettling tale centred around victim blaming and rape unravels.
Those who complain that they find September Girls vocals pushed a little bit too far down in the mix somewhat miss the point as this is akin to bemoaning the fact that TS Eliot doesn’t write traditional prose. ‘Cursing The Sea‘ is all about creating an atmosphere, like shadows across the moon, whereby the vocal harmonies combine with the overall sound rather than lead the songs by the hand. There’s also the desire to experiment with sound and reverb, to not go for the easy option of the formulaic pop song. In doing so September Girls create something much more interesting than standard indie guitar pop and it’s an all-encompassing immersive experience that rewards and reveals hidden depths on repeated listens.
September Girls aesthetic is reflected perfectly in the iconic, beautifully realised cover art, which is certainly a match for any of the designs 4AD or Factory Records commissioned in their heyday. It’s powerful, feminine, gives the impression of a band that means business and in many ways encapsulates the darkness and light that emanates from the album.
Whilst we wouldn’t wish to garland any new band with the “classic début” mantle, there is a strong argument to support the view that, through the lens of time ‘Cursing The Sea‘ could be viewed as such. Instead, for now, we’ll stay on safer ground and simply state this is a stunning début that succeeds on every level.