- 05 Feb 14
Production mars impact of ex-chalet girls' distortion-drenched pop assault
Shoegazing is alive and well and living in Dublin. Cursing The Sea, the debut album from September Girls, manages to combine the hypnotic guitar assault of Ride with the pop chops of The Jesus And Mary Chain. This Dublin five-piece all girl group, named after The Bangles’ cover of Big Star’s magnificent ‘September Gurls’, includes former Chalets singers, Caoimhe Derwin and Paula Cullen, in its ranks, alongside Lauren Kerchner, Jessie Ward and Sarah Grimes.
The fact that four of the five (with drummer Grimes the notable exception) contribute vocals might suggest lots of doo-wop harmonies, and while there are moments of choral excess, for the most part the vocals are buried so deep in the mix that you’d need mining equipment and a team of archaeologists to bring them to the surface. For all the joys of the feedback-ridden pop of ‘Heartbeats’, the driving keyboard-tastic ‘Talking’, the dreamy fuzz of ‘Another Love Song’ or the chiming guitar attack of ‘Left Behind’, it often feels like listening to a great album from behind a wall of cotton wool. There’s no denying the infectious gallop of ‘Green Eyed’ or the insistent garage rock of ‘Ships’, which got even Pitchfork in a spin, but by the time you’re two-thirds through, one distortion-drenched drama bleeds into the next, and only the hauntingly powerful closer, ‘Sister’ really grabs you by the short ‘n’ curlies and shakes you into submission.
Ultimately, the album’s production lets it down, which is a real shame, because with just a little more polish, Cursing The Sea could have been a real tour de force. Instead, it’s something of a frustrating listen.