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NewDad: ‘Madra’ review - breathtaking, dream-pop debut

The Galway band's debut further cements their position as Ireland’s most exciting young band.

Irish shoegaze fourpiece NewDad announced their arrival into the indie world with the bang in 2020 through dreamy singles like ‘Blue’ and ‘How’. A steady release of acclaimed singles and EPs over the four years since has propelled them to the top of new indie streaming playlists, all the while raising excitement for their debut album Madra.

As expected, they deliver on this anticipation and some. Madra, which translates as “dog” in Irish, combines dreamy soundscapes with an undercurrent of poignancy. It’s inspired– without the influences ever becoming too telling - by bands at the forefront of the member’s formative years: the Pixies, Slowdive and The Cure, in particular.

‘Angel’ impressively kicks things off, setting a theme of melancholy which will haunt the record throughout. The curtain raiser projects an air of mystery: a hypnotic bassline and ominous guitars support singer Julie Dawson’s tale of a destructive relationship. Following this is ‘Sickly Sweet’, an excellent sugary earworm both in sound and lyrical content to change the tone entirely.

Later, ‘In My Head’ keeps the album’s midpoint fresh, thejangly guitar work of Sean O'Dowd contrasting wonderfully to Dawson’s anxiety struggles: “I'm buried under blankets / Descending into madness / And there's no escape from the thoughts burned in my brain."

Meanwhile, ‘Nightmares’ reveals a more menacing side to NewDad. The confused singer longs for a partner she wishes she despised instead: “I hope you're in my nightmares / 'Cause to dream of you is unfair / I hope one day I don't care”. They then take a left turn on the beautifully ethereal ‘White Ribbons’, while closer ‘Madra’ follows in similar vein before a wonderful crashing of shoegaze rock.

According to the band, Madra has the Galway band on a “journey of self-exploration, self-sabotage and reflection” and the end result is a vulnerable debut which – for the most part - hooks us right in until the bitter end. A collection of breathtaking, dream-pop tunes to further cement NewDad position as Ireland’s most exciting young band.



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