Indie Music

NewDad: Madra review – unfiltered songcraft in a dreamy yet spiky debut

NewDad singer Julia Dawson seems to be at the point in a young musician’s life where songs are written without filter, without the fear of whether it’s OK to broadcast innermost thoughts to a wider world.

The line “I wish I hadn’t been so open” in Where I Go certainly rings true to lyrics which are deep, dark and very personal. With themes from shame and self-doubt through bullying, mental-health issues, self-harm and general dysfunction, Dawson’s dreamlike ghostly vocals sweeten the anguish in lines such as Angel’s “You’re sweet, I’m sick / I hurt myself for kicks” or In My Head’s bleakly frank “I’m buried under blankets, descending into madness”.

The Galway four-piece’s debut isn’t a difficult listen, though. The band’s wash of guitars and vocals tap into the renewed interest in shoegaze while also channelling Pixies/Breeders grungy pop and mournful Cure/New Order basslines; their youthful energy and production gloss gives 30-year-old sounds and styles a more contemporary reboot. NewDad are not afraid to turn up the guitars, but there’s a blossoming pop sensibility in Angel or the Lush-like In My Head’s dreamily catchy choruses. Sickly Sweet channels vintage Garbage and lyrics about an addictive romance into a fizzing pop concoction, while Dream of Me camps out on Wolf Alice’s front lawn. Nosebleed’s epic sonic landscapes perhaps do most to stamp their own musical identity, but Dawson is an intriguing and affecting emerging voice.

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