The first time I listened to this album, I had questions.
The first: why are they breaking up their band when their latest album is this good?
The second: where are the subdued, quiet Augustines I remember from their 2014 self-titled album?
Opening track “Are We Alive” assaulted my ears with a drum frenzy and loud vocals asking the question, “Are we alive, or are we just kidding ourselves?” The song’s initial energy doesn’t waver at all throughout the song, and finishes as strong as it started. It sounds like a live version, it’s one I can see myself enjoying at a gig.
“When Things Fall Apart” is slower, and is slightly more uplifting with the lyrics, “Don’t fall apart when I’m gone. We’ll go someplace, we’ll get a new start, you’ve gotta move on when things fall apart.”
The synthesizer is something else I have questions about. Boys, where are your guitars? This song could easily fit into a soundtrack of a John Hughes movie – if I had to choose one, I would say Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – with its use of all the power ballad features like a synth, repetitive and uplifting lyrics, and a syncopated drumbeat.
“The Forgotten Way” is full of wanting and desperation. It was likely written as a reassurance for a partner, telling them “Baby, baby we’ll be alright, you’ll see. We’re going through changes…” The strings add to the feeling of sadness and tension and they play right until the end of the song, an end that feels incomplete.
“Landmine” builds from a slow ballad, with only a quickly strummed acoustic guitar and pleading lyrics, to a peak in the last chorus with heavy drums, keys and bass. The line “But I’m a landmine,” is an admission of guilt, of knowing despite wanting everything to work out, they could ruin it by acting too unexpectedly or quickly, like a landmine.
The rest of the album continues this way, with its complex arrangements featuring a synthesizer, syncopated drums, and strings. The lyrics sound uplifting and motivational on the surface, but when you listen closely you can hear the urgency.
Think of when someone is angry with you, and you try to reassure them everything is OK but they won’t believe you. This album is a long version of that kind of argument. It asks questions about relationships, life, and what’s next – all fitting themes given this will sadly be Augustine’s last album together.
The last track on This is Your Life, “Days Roll By”, asks questions as old as time: “Broken hearts, well they come and they go. What did I come here for? And why can’t we turn this around?”, finishing with “I’m here on my own. Days roll by.”
We’ve had a nice time together, Augustines. Your first album was one my new boyfriend told me to listen to back in 2012, and your self-titled release in 2014 got me through my breakup with that same boyfriend. It’s a good way to go out, stopping when you want to, and off the back of a strong album.
Review Score: 7.8 out of 10.
This is Your Life is out now