Augustines’ new album, This Is Your Life, is their third and sees the band moving musically while maintaining the straight from the heart appeal of their existing work. The album, as ever for the band, features the superb, emotional vocals of Billy McCarthy backed by melodic hooks and a driving rhythm. The band’s sound now also includes synthesisers, drum machines and some African vocal features.
The album opens with ‘Are We Alive?’ a song that has been used for a while on tour. It is a crowd-pleasing anthem that audiences love to sing along to. On top of the driving guitar sound, Billy McCarthy’s vocals are belting out at their heartfelt best. Its appeal to live fully reflects much of the Augustines work which is about battling through adversity to a better life. It may have worked as an upbeat final song but given the musical changes to come in the rest of the album, it serves as a pleaser to the existing fan base.
The second song ‘When Things Fall Apart’ is the first single from the album. Its opening immediately departs from the guitar and vocals of much of the bands existing work. The use of synthesiser sounds are new but the band do not lose the emotional force of their music. We still hear about a dark background on ‘Town of Vampires’ and ‘When Things Fall Apart’, but there is Billy McCarthy to pick you up by telling you that you can move on somewhere else and “get a new start”. This is the therapy of Augustines’ songs.
The different styles and textures of the album are shown in the grand sound produced on 'The Forgotten Way' by drums, chorus and strings contrasting with the fragility of ‘Hold Me Loneliness’. There are two stadium-ready ballads in ‘Running In Place’ and ‘May You Keep Well’ with Senegalese vocalists Pape and Cheikh. These feature a heavy drum track and a World-music feel with those African vocalists. The melodies are beautiful and it would be interesting to hear a simplified live rendition of these songs. For those craving this approach, the album has an answer in ‘Landmine’ with its slower more acoustic feel.
The final song, ‘Days Roll By’, is a classic closer with a very ‘80s drum and synthesiser mix backing McCarthy's warm vocals. A bitter-sweet finish to an album of songs about moving on from heart-felt sorrow to something new.
Overall, the album can feel fragmented as the band experiment with different styles. However, it retains its heart throughout and will provide much to please existing fans and deservedly win new ones.