Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Madra introduces NewDad's dream-pop world


Release date: 26 January 2024
NEWDAD Madra cover
25 January 2024, 16:30 Written by Vicky Greer

Galway’s NewDad are fast becoming one of those buzz bands.

The shoegaze quartet have been appearing on Ones To Watch lists across the industry, and anticipation has been steadily climbing for their debut full-length, Madra (from the Irish for ‘dog’). With its dreamy atmosphere and direct lyricism, it sees NewDad hone their craft with precision and cement their place in the alternative landscape.

Throughout the album, NewDad craft a series of dreamlike soundscapes, drawing from both classic post-punk instrumentation and an ethereal shoegaze vocal style. Madra has a hypnotic, almost otherworldly atmosphere that can be traced back to predecessors such as The Cure and Cocteau Twins, as well as contemporaries like Softcult and Black Honey. Each song is expertly constructed and well-produced,, covering traditional post-punk sounds on tracks like “Dream of Me” and “Let Go”, and more pop-influenced moments like the earworm chorus of “Sickly Sweet”. Even at such an early stage in their career, they’re already developing a signature sound.

On Madra, singer and guitarist Julie Dawson’s lyrics are more direct than on the band’s previous EPs, swapping out more veiled and concealed imagery for cutting, personal lines. “Where I Go” explored the lasting effects of trauma as Dawson sings, “You all made me want to fucking disappear / I wish someone could fix what was broken /I wish I hadn’t been so open”.

Indeed, much of Madra deals with dark thoughts and self-deprecation. “I’m buried under blankets / Descending into madness / And there’s no escape” is a stark image of depression similar to the low self-esteem of the title track Madra” in which Dawsons sings, “And I’m just really sorry / That you even have to be around me”. However, there is still a message of hope in “White Ribbons”, a reminder that recovery is always possible. At times, though, these lyrics blend too much into the music. Their jarring vulnerability could be more intense with a bit more to breathing room.

Madra’s shortcomings come from an overall lack of variation. Its most exciting moments come when NewDad embrace bolder guitars such as “Dream of Me” and “Angel”, giving these songs a more raw, impactful feel. While their dedication to creating a cohesive, dream-pop atmosphere makes the album feel incredibly polished and put-together, it comes at the cost of songs blending into one another without distinction. While the signature style they have debuted with is admirable, some time to experiment and push the boundaries just a little further will make NewDad a true force to be reckoned with.

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