Augustine – Picking up Speed (single)
Augustine was just named "Pop of the Year" at the Swedish Independent Music Awards. I think something must have gone missing there. Star, artist, newcomer? Anyway, fill in the blank.
Now he enters his second year as an artist with new single ‘Picking up Speed’.
I’ve come across the admittedly shy and reserved Augustine a couple of times previously. Firstly, his debut single ‘Luzon’ which was released in February last year, and which I described as “an accomplished first effort” while pondering how he got his name, speculating on (Saint) Augustine of Hippo, from the 5th Century (Bob Dylan sang “I dreamed I saw St Augustine” and Dylan is one of this Augustine’s influencers), and a Benedictine monk called Augustine who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the following century. I still don’t know.
The second occasion was only a month ago at what may turn out to be the last music festival for a long time; the by: Larm event in Oslo. That was a slight disappointment. He was the right person in the wrong venue if you know what I mean.
He writes dreamy, delicate, tuneful songs and is an introverted deep thinker. Many of his songs concern the way love can overcome weaknesses such as anxiety, inadequacy and social phobia.
‘Picking Up Speed’ starts in a similar vein, as an emerging love story but one with a doomed ending. You know that’s coming when you hear,
“You picked the shirt that I'm wearing/ ah did you not honey love/ and all the hipsters and has-beens/ well, they can all just f**k off,
And it's been eating my heart out/ and now it's gone to my head/ that we have peaked for some months now/ and this is all gonna end”.
That expletive genuinely shocked me. I didn’t think he was the type!
Clearly they’re picking up speed towards the end of their romance and he has his mea culpa moment right at the end with,
“You picked the shirt that I'm wearing/ ah did you not honey love/ Cuz you got great taste in fashion/ and surely I, I have none.” Incidentally, for followers of fashion, that shirt he’s wearing in the video is the same one he wore at by: Larm. No Augustine, you haven’t, mate.
Publicity for Augustine has him “elegantly oscillating between the groovy melodies of 70s Bee Gees and The Beach Boys, as well as the contemporary soundscapes of artists like Jamie xx and Tame Impala” while mentioning how he was influenced by Bob Dylan and The National.
Hmm, maybe. But I’ll tell you what I hear in the gentle beat and riff – Arcade Fire with one of their softer songs from the ‘Neon Bible’ era (‘Windowsill’ for example, or ‘Ocean of Noise’). It’s particularly noticeable just before the final verse.
A couple of clever little touches. There are several very short breaks in the music which, together with the looped recurring images in the video suggest a relationship which is both stop-start and which has, as he says, “peaked.”
Probably Augustine’s best effort to date. Very promising.