The labels being thrown NewDad’s way seem to largely consist of variations on ‘dreampop’ which, although partially accurate, only tell a small part of the story.
Part of the impressively long list of bands from Ireland that are making waves, the Galway four-piece may have taken their time (having been together for a few years) but this first EP is worth the wait and effort that’s gone into it.
Drown may shimmer, in the way the dreampop must, but its undercurrent owes more to new wave with a stoic and meticulously rigid rhythm section that intimates an undertone of menace, as reflected in singer and guitarist Julie Dawson’s lyrics, ‘Take me to the sea, then drown me’. The suffocating guitar at the outro adds further character and layers beyond the standard wistful fare.
I Don’t Recognise You may be built on reverbed guitar, but is slacker college rock in execution (with an opening chord sequence eerily similar to Semisonic’s Closing Time) yet also, if it wasn’t so understated and subtle, has the potential to be an anthem with its arms aloft chorus. It very nearly stomps.
Recent single Slowly bubbles and percolates well, with each instrument pitched carefully and tastefully, none of them overwhelming the song, although the non-stop drumming by Fiachra Parslow gives it a good go. It’s lethargic and immersive, like early Warpaint.
On Blue, Dawson tweaks and picks at the emotions rather than directly targeting them. With a groovy yet funky bass and meticulously clean guitar, it’s gently hypnotic and almost otherworldy, while the Cocteau Twins-influenced Hide features a chorus that washes (and exfoliates) over the listener with simple but effective chiming guitar as Dawson honestly admits, ‘I just don’t want to feel anything I’d rather hide.’
Closing track Waves is one of the band’s oldest songs and finally gets its time in the sun. Opening with finger-plucked electric guitar and Dawson’s double-tracked vocals (the singer enunciating slightly louder than elsewhere to ensure she’s heard), it spreads its wings into a heavenly chorus before dropping down again. It’s well named and effective, as the choruses and outro consume while the verses give a chance for breath.
Like the rest of the EP, the last song leaves the listener with a sense of satisfactory melancholia. In the best possible way, Waves sounds like music you’ve heard before, but with that it provides great comfort.
With a self-assuredness over their sound, and several other weapons (rather than just reverbed guitars) in their locker, Waves points towards a bright future which will include more than just dreams.