NewDadhas always had a special place in my heart since I first discovered the band a couple of years ago on a cold, lonely evening in my first-year dorm. ‘I Don’t Recognise You’ reverberated through my broken wired headphones and I was instantly transfixed, high on the blend of sultry vocals and mesmerising instrumentals. The track not only topped my Spotify Wrapped of 2022 but has solidified its place as the cinematic soundtrack of all my romantic pitfalls.
Following a sticky summer that brought with it a plethora of singles, from the whimsically beautiful ‘Break In’ to the blushing delicacy of ‘In My Head’, the band now look to the release of their debut album Madra ahead of their 2024 UK and Ireland tour. Madra itself means “dog” in Irish – a nod to the band’s heritage and cultural roots as one of Ireland’s most anticipated rock bands, praised for their refreshing take on the genre at a time when Irish rock has once again reared its beautifully crafted head just as U2 and The Cranberriesonce did.
Madra meaning dog in Irish explores various difficult parts of the human condition and the idea of the title is that these feelings that come up are sometimes ones you can’t escape, feelings that follow you around like a dog…
Julie Dawson, NewDad
Packing a punch with 11 emotionally visceral tracks, Madra traverses self-exploration, sabotage and the oxymoronic freedom to be found in pain, all cast through the amorous vocals of Julie Dawson and bound in a delicately tied white ribbon, stained with red.
Pre-release ‘Angel’ features Dawson’s angelic vocals layered perfectly on top of the band’s mesmerising, kaleidoscope-like sound. Perfect for fans of Irish counterparts Just Mustard, NewDad delicately depicts sensitive subjects through colourful, dream-like lenses, just as The Smiths so notoriously do in ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.
‘White Ribbon’ takes us on a plunge into ice-cold coquette-core romanticism, reminiscent of a Brontë novel with its gothic and melancholic undertones and raw vocals. Speaking about the track, Dawson stated: “This song is about how no matter how much shit you put your body through, it always finds a way to fix itself, and that’s a very beautiful thing. ‘White Ribbons’ is a metaphor for my skin; something that always heals my wounds. It’s like a promise to my body that I will be kinder to myself.”
‘Nightmares’ projects us upwards, bearing its gritted teeth as it explores resistance and resentment towards another, something Dawson reiterates she cannot push to the side of her mind in ‘Let Go’ as she repeats, ‘But you should know, I can’t let go…’ The tracks work with and against each other, representing the different stages of grief and emotional outpour, mapping the all too familiar throes of romantic infatuation.
Elsewhere, ‘Where I Go’ explores bullying and its long-lasting effects on an individual. Dawson voices feelings of being disconnected, blinded and oblivious to the future – ‘I don’t know where I go…’ echoes throughout the track, raising goosebumps on my arms with its chilling accuracy and Sean O’Dowd’s recherché guitar textures. ‘Nosebleed’ focuses on the feelings brought by codependency, Dawson admitting, ‘The hold you had on me/ Will hold me eternally’. The track moves through repeated cycles of damage and recovery, projected through the literary beauty of a nosebleed metaphor, all while pleasing every English teacher ever through its use of colour imagery that nods to the band’s earlier release, Blue.
2024 has a lot in store for NewDad. Madra marks the first of what will be many emotional rollercoasters produced by the band, bringing them into the Irish rock spotlight that will only get brighter with time.
Haiku Review: Wrapped in white ribbon Madra croons and cries to us Its voice angelic
Madra is out today. Purchase a copy from the band’s webstore, or stream on Spotify here: