IN THIS year of commemorating the 1916 Rising, one of the most welcome aspects has been the long overdue acknowledgement of the important role women played in the struggle for freedom.
Yet despite the bravery and high ideals of the revolutionary period, the counter revolution which came in the wake of the Civil War, along with the presence of an over-mighty Roman Catholic Church, ensured the new Ireland would continue to be a cold house for women.
The experience of Irish women, and the lingering effects of past attitudes, is explored in September Girls' second album, Age Of Indignation. I hate using the term 'all-female' band as we never describe Led Zeppelin or The National as 'all male' bands. However it is appropriate September Girls are 'all-female' as this is an album which only Irish women had the right to make.
'Catholic Guilt' is the key track where all the themes come together: "You put us in this vessel/built from our own fears." A simple statement to which there are many layers. Dense, fast, slow, angry, considered, it is a thrilling musical ride. Also close to that standard are 'Ghosts', with it's wonderful, grandstanding guitar riffing, and 'John Of Gods' which ends with an unaccompanied choral passage from the band.
The quintet's debut Cursing The Sea was a strong statement, but marred by a muddy production which buried the vocals so deep in the mix they were nearly inaudible. On ...Indignation by contrast, the vocals are clear and upfront - the band have something to say on feminism, the church, and the self - while the music is also clearer and sharper, its nuances and contrasts on full display, without losing the Girls' characteristic, heavy guitar 'wall of sound' intensity.
This is ambitious, angry, indie-rock. It is not always the easiest listen, but it is a very worthwhile listen.