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AUGUSTINES - AUGUSTINES (OXCART)

Go outside. Coat on, hood up—go outside. Push your earphones into your skull and push play on whatever device you've chosen to drown out the world. Augustines live here. Walk with this record through the city, by the river and under bridges. Push your head into the cold and rain and dare its severity to knock you down. You're warmer indoors, but out here you'll feel better. The words “from miles away / your love just died” puncture the music and you're smiling because the man singing it is singing it like he's already made peace with it. You're walking faster, the passionless trudge becoming a purposeful stride as the reverb rises with guitars and organs that echo catharsis but not anger. There's no bitterness here. Stop to smoke, spitting rain and carcinogen in equal measure. Your smile remains, but it's rueful and knowing. There's pianos and a brass section, falsettos and whispers. Feedback lurks in the quiet places between words and silence serves your existence just as well as the frantic cacophony that propelled your steps only moments earlier. You're as wet as you can get, and you have no desire to go back. “We laid on the roof / drank wine / and we proved we could fix ourselves.” No empty promise, childish mistake, callous aside, drunken fistfight, broken embrace, fleeting fury, economic downturn or emotional upswing was a wasted measure. “Have you ever lost someone? / Screamed Holy Mary down the hall? / Cried against a steering wheel / and hated every mirror you saw?” You don't wear that cynicism as well as you used to, so maybe it's time to let it go. Self-destruction isn't as beautiful as it used to be, either. There's no poetry in squandering years and the dearest friend you've ever had is possibility. You're fairly sure you've head this song already, but it's okay because you've been somewhere else for a while, anyway. Couldn't hurt to hear it again. It's warmer than it was, but you're not ready to let go of the seclusion offered by hood and coat. Keep going forwards, martial drum accompaniment in tow. Earnestness may be unfashionable, but fuck it. There's nothing on this record that you don't believe. There's been sneering sideswipes that proclaim “DESPERATE LUNGE FOR STADIUM!” and they've been so close to being right that it's almost painful. Everything here is a desperate lunge, just as it was on Rise Ye Sunken Ships. It's the only way Billy McCarthy can get his words out. The elongation of “please,” “me” and “hey” might be embarrassing coming from some people, but you don't doubt the sincerity laid out with no thought for a riposte. Where ...Ships was a primal howl of terror, frustration, fear, longing and regret, this isn't so fixated on the struggle. There's hope in every note. Those Springsteen comparisons aren't going anywhere, but this band is. Your battery dies and you're flung back into the world. McCarthy has stopped singing, you have no idea where you are, but you think that 2014 might be Augustines' year. What's more, you think it might be yours, too.