The Small Details of Break-ups
Equal parts influenced by the goth-rock and shoegaze stylings of years gone by and the intimate, melodic songwriting of their modern-day bedroom-pop peers, Galway group NewDad formed just over a year ago. The band’s sound began to form across a number of promising singles centred around hazy guitar riffs, breathy vocals and plainspoken lyricism. Starting off with their debut ‘How’, NewDad entered as an enjoyable act with an ability to capture sad emotions, if not entirely remarkable in their execution. By the end of 2020, the act’s sound had sharpened, culminating with ‘I Don’t Recognise You’, which channelled their wall-of-sound approach into a more melodic, restrained mould. NewDad’s new six-track EP Waves expands upon these early singles.
Sonically, Waves has a clear aesthetic. ‘Drown’ establishes itself with rumbling post-punk basslines, reverb-drenched vocals and noodling guitars. Below the scuzzy shoegaze stylings lies a catchy melody. This pop flirtation pervades elsewhere on the EP in the form of the nostalgic anthem ‘I Don’t Recognise You’. On the darker side of the EP, such as the restrained, disheartened ‘Blue’, the act shift their sound. The accessible hooks remain but ‘Blue’ benefits from peeling back the layers to focus more on vocalist Julie Dawson’s lilting, frustrated delivery whilst gentle interplay occurs between its seductive bassline and twinkling guitars. Similarly, ‘Slowly’ gives its instrumentation more breathing space, steadily building towards a thrashy, unwinding conclusion.
Tired and resentful
Alienation from one’s romantic interest is the primary theme of Waves. Most tracks chart the small, miserable details of the steady descent into an inevitable break-up. These songs aren’t heartbroken, they’re tired and resentful. Lyrically, NewDad are simplistic but mostly engaging. ‘Blue’ recalls the lazy interactions of a doomed relationship. ‘While you were making up your mind / I lost mine’ is sad-girl pop wordplay at its most quotable. At times the vagueness can be frustrating, as on ‘Slowly’ where the line ‘What do you wanna show me? You’re way over there and you walk so slowly’ is repeatedly delivered while ultimately feeling quite empty. Distinct personality is important in standing out amongst the crowded melancholic indie rock field that NewDad resides within, and a song like ‘Slowly’ runs the risk of being forgettable.
NewDad’s writing is at its best on Waves’ closing title track. Showcasing Dawson’s vocals with minimal instrumentation, save for a handful of soaring explosions, it sees the band playing with loud and soft dynamics for a gut-wrenching result. Flipping between the vulnerability of ‘please hold on’ and the disarming declaration ‘if you drag me down, I will drag you down too’, NewDad posit themselves as both the lovelorn hero and the cut-throat antagonist, switching sides with ease. It’s a heartening glimpse of what the act can achieve when they dig a little deeper.
Purchase Waves on Bandcamp: https://newdadofficial.bandcamp.com/album/waves-ep
Published on 14 April 2021