The last couple of years have seen a meteoric rise for Galway-based NewDad. Self-releasing three singles in 2020 before signing to Fair Youth Records, an immediate independence in sound and identity were forged. Mixed into these singles were an intriguing coming-together of Breeders-esque basslines, dreamy grunge soundscapes, and the ethereal vocals of lead singer Julie Dawson.
More singles came, more singles were incredibly well-received, and now NewDad have met the masses with their debut EP Waves. A six-track collection, it sees the four-piece hone in their sound in a display of remarkable confidence for a band, in terms of physical releases, still so young.
Opening track ‘Drown’ is a stunning composition – pacey, tight and other-worldly, it reaches its peak with a squealing, unhinged guitar line in glorious combat with the insistent percussion and brooding bassline alongside it. ‘Slowly’ is a similarly focused track which experiments with diverse arrangements and varying sparsity throughout.
What becomes apparent with further listening is that NewDad are experts of meticulously constructed basslines and vocal hooks. There isn’t a moment that can’t be tapped or nodded along to – every track is a tribute to the musicianship of the group and their ability in crafting such atmospheres.
A little more experimentation in sound would be welcome, however. Previous listeners of NewDad would already have heard half of Waves’ before its release, so there are question marks around the need for six tracks. The NewDad sound becomes a little too familiar, and a detachment from their much-practiced sound wouldn’t be unwelcome by any means.
But this is not to detract from the quality that Waves possesses. Even if the musical themes becomes a little predictable, there lies a multitude of catchy basslines, grabbing atmospherics and powerful grooves to keep you interested. Not that you’d need it particularly, mind.
The stand-out moment of the EP comes in the single ‘I Don’t Recognise You’ which ups the heaviness of the guitars and throws you back to the early 90s peak of Throwing Muses and Pixies. It’s in this that the calmness of Dawson’s vocal delivery clearly sets NewDad apart from other similarly influenced bands. All the sounds compliment eachother so effectively, but the centrepiece of deadpan, nonchalant reflections from Dawson gives them an elusive edge.
Waves is an excellent collection from NewDad, and a tribute to their prolificacy over the last year. It does leave you wondering as to whether they can escape the sound that they have accustomed themselves with to more spontaneous realms, but for what it is, you’re left with very little to complain about.
Top Tracks: Drown, I Don’t Recognise You