A self-conscious play for stadium-rock ascension
Despite its success, Augustines’ debut album was the sort of thing you wouldn’t want to replicate – a record of deep sadness born out of the suicides of frontman Billy McCarthy’s mother and brother, both diagnosed schizophrenics. Little wonder, then, that their self-titled follow-up doesn’t pack anywhere near the same emotional wallop. Too often, ‘Augustines’ seeks to lift the listener with bumper-sticker optimism (‘Now You Are Free’, ’Don’t You Look Back’) and unearned catharsis, evoking everyone from Bruce Springsteen to U2 to – shamelessly and repeatedly – Arcade Fire, yet never quite convincing you of its sincerity. As a self-conscious play for stadium-rock ascension, it may prove successful. As a successor to one of the most honest and affecting debuts of recent years, however, it feels a little empty.