To be a band like September Girls and get anywhere, you have to be pretty good. There are an awful lot groups who make this kind of propulsive noise-pop, melding sugary hooks with uncompromising riffs and renetic percussion. The Dublin five-piece are jostling for attention amid some pretty stiff competition, but luckily, on Veneer, they hold their own very nicely.
The opener, and title track, is a wonderfully bolshy pace-setter, with catchy guitar lines dripping gratuitous fuzz all over the sneering vocals. Distorted bass, usually a hallmark of beery lad-rock, is actually used tastefully here, particularly in a brief breakdown halfway through the song that allows the assaulted listener a quick pause for breath.
Next up is “Black Oil”, in which eerie spoken-word verses are spat over pounding, Queens of the Stone Age-esque textures before the song opens out into wild-eyed instrumental sections that could quite easily be fit into The Horrors’ Strange House. This song is followed by “Melatonin”, whose melodrama and sinister-sweet vocal melodies recall Siouxsie and the Banshees (in a good way).
The EP closes on its most composed, relaxed song, “Butterflies”, which is still built on punky guitars and dextrous drums, but places these beneath some prettier, more delicate vocals. The Girls layer some impressive harmonies over this final track, and, though only a slight change of pace, it’s a refreshing one.
Veneer contains very little that is too innovative or revolutionary, but that’s not really the point. What sets September Girls apart is their ability to channel, and wear upon their sleeves, a wide variety of (often gothic) influences without ever letting those obscure their noise-pop identity. That, and their ability to write fun, straightforward, uncompromising rock music.