Fans of the New York band formerly known as We Are Augustines will be happy to know that the Brooklyn and Seattle natives have not only won the right to use their original name (the simpler moniker Augustines), but are also back with a self-titled follow up to their critically acclaimed 2011 debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships.
Augustines opens with a short, introductory track, ‘Intro (I Touch Imaginary Hands)’ comprising simply of plinky-plonky tones and singer/lyricist Billy McCarthy’s ragged, raw vocals. This leads us into the second track on the record, ‘Cruel City’, an atmospheric song about lost love with lyrics such as the heartfelt “I miss your skin, I’ll still reach for you in the dark” that draw the listener in and gives us great expectations for the tracks to follow.
The rest of the album follows in the same vein, with the song ‘Weary Eyes’ sounding like it could well become an rock anthem, with lyrics such as “Cold sneaks into your bones when winter comes to break your heart/And all the tree-lined streets don’t mean anything when your world is freezing and covered in ice” that will resonate with the feelings of loneliness a lot of people feel at colder times of the year. Despite the sad nature of some tracks on the album, the majority have a hugely inspiring and motivating feel to them which flows right the way through Augustines.
At the end of the record, we come to the ardent ‘Hold Onto Anything’, which stands out from the first few seconds as it starts with a passionate yell from McCarthy that we hear repeated throughout the final track, with military-like drum beats keeping the up-tempo sound and rounding off the album perfectly. The song feels like an acceptance of hard times, but acknowledges the need to push through to go on to better things. “Well, sometimes you burn without water/In blackest of nights without light/Go, and the dam can break/And you crawl back, a rose in your hand”.
Fans of the spiritual feel present in Rise Ye Sunken Ships won’t be disappointed, as the band have explored this further with their sophomore outing, with a mix of soft piano and haunting vocals throughout the album adding to the ethereal sound. Upbeat guitar riffs and fast drum beats create what, on the whole, is a very uplifting and positive record. The first half of the album can come across as quite linear, as the sound of the tracks is rather similar and means that songs blur into each other slightly, however the poetic lyrics that flow through the entirety of the album help to differentiate each song from the next.
Rise Ye Sunken Ships was an emotional record in that a lot of the inspiration for it came from some very tough times in the lives of the trio, and after going strength to strengthwhile touring it extensively for two years, Augustines were ready to move on from the past and start the next chapter in their journey. This comes across heavily in Augustines, so much so that the album feels like a revitalization of the band, and a great development of their sound.