By Clare Martin
You get the sense listening to NewDad that if they get the support they deserve, they’re destined to be the next celebrated Irish indie export.
I know that sounds like hyperbole or like I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s hard not to feel this way after listening to the four-piece’s spectacular debut EP Waves, out on March 26th via Fair Youth Records. NewDad’s sonic influences include the likes of The Cure, but in terms of Irish groups they fall closest to Just Mustard’s reverb-soaked sound—appropriate considering that Waves was produced and mixed by Chris Ryan, who’s also worked with Just Mustard.
The Galway band’s songs don’t have the same unnerving undercurrent to them, though, as those of the Dundalk five-piece. NewDad—made up of Julie Dawson (vocals, guitar), Áindle O’Beirn (bass), Sean O’Dowd (guitar), Fiachra Parslow (drums)—weave together shoegaze-tinged tracks with hazy guitar and drums that oscillate between laid-back and stirring. Their dreamy slacker rock has arrived just in time as we’re getting that grand stretch in the evening. These half a dozen songs are meant to be blared out of a portable speaker as you share a bag of cans and goof around with your mates. Or, if you’re feeling the pandemic blues, they’re also well suited for looking moodily out the window and contemplating your existence.
Opener “Drown” pulls you in immediately with insistent percussion and DIIV-esque guitar. Dawson languidly sings, “Take me to the sea / Then drown me,” and later, “I want to feel the cold / And I don’t want to know what happens when you get old.” Their simple but moving lyrics succinctly capture what it’s like when you’re young and all you want is to be overwhelmed or be numb, but either way not to live in the boring, grey in-between.
“I Don’t Recognise You” tells the tale of a friend who’s struggling because they’re partying too much or using substances to escape their reality. “Why do you want to waste your time? Why do you want to lose your mind?” Dawson implores, and the words feel all-too-familiar for young people in a country where our mental health services are maxed out, so people turn to other places to deal with the heaviness of life. The track may sound lackadaisical, but the lyrics suggest otherwise.
“Slowly” and “Blue” were, like “I Don’t Recognise You,” released before the EP, but with the other three songs they cement NewDad’s lush sound. Squealing distortion on the guitar and thundering drums make “Slowly” one of Waves’ grungier tracks, while “Blue” is just as listless and pensive as the title suggests.
The penultimate song, “Hide,” is drenched in summery sadness. “I just don’t want to feel anything / I’d rather hide,” Dawson proclaims, a line that feels like it’s pulled out of a teenage diary in the best way possible. NewDad speak to those all-consuming, heart wrenching adolescent emotions in a way that still feels wise beyond their years.
Ebbing and flowing in energy, the title track more than lives up to its name. The band members mimic the sounds of the sea with their instruments and evoke the vastness of the ocean with pangs of either synth or steel pedal guitar. The drums crash against your eardrums like waves upon the shore.
NewDad have arrived, fully formed and ready to take the island by storm.