Madra Review: All Bark All Bite
NewDad’s highly anticipated debut album Madra is finally here. A breath of fresh yet familiar air for the Irish music scene, the bands eclectic mix of shoegaze guitar walls and dreampop vocals have cultivated a sizable following for the Galway 4 piece.
Tracks and Expectations
I went into Madra ready to love it, but I will admit my expectations were sky high. After seeing the band perform live in Kilmainham on Paolo Nutini’s recent tour and again in The Roisin Dubh this past December I was ready for this album to blow me away. While there is definitely no shortage of excellent tracks on this album, it was never going to completely reinvent the alt rock wheel. Regardless the songs feel fresh and what’s here is an excellent debut that I think a lot of people are going to love.
Leading up to the albums release the band released six singles, five of which made the final cut for the album. Each of these singles offer something similar sonically with the exception of the ballad “White Ribbons”. There are some hidden gems here too. I particularly enjoyed the track “Nosebleed” and the easier pop punk sounds heard on “Dream of Me” are sure to make it a popular track.
The title track “Madra” initially felt quite unassuming, but quickly became one of my favourite songs on the record. With lyrics surrounding difficulties expressing feelings and damaging personal relationships its sure to be a comfort for those dealing with the difficulties of growing up.
The same can be said for the lyrics on the album as a whole. Julie Dawsons writing is raw and honest. She pulls no punches when it comes to tackling difficult feelings and uncomfortable subjects such as depression, longing and hopelessness. “Nosebleed” in particular is a difficult song for anyone who’s ever had to let a friend go for your own sake.
Newdad is far from a one woman show however, Cara Joshi’s thundering bass is an absolute delight and takes the lead on many of the tracks. Theres so much to love here for bass fans. Cara shows a mastery of her instrument, knowing when to step back and give us simple lines and when to take centre stage. The bands sound is as integrally tied to the bass as the lead guitar which is unusual for a shoegaze inspired act.
Fiachra Parslow’s drumming may appear deceptively simple on the offset, but like all great drummers he serves the songs to a near perfect degree. Parslow’s rhythm is really allowed to shine on tracks like “Let Go”. Simple, quality beats that perfectly compliment the twinkling guitars and massive bass.
To round off the instrumentals we have Sean O’Dowd’s twinkly, grungy guitar. Sean manages to inject fresh life into an old sound. With riffs reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins and Slowdive, my only complaint was that he wasn’t given more chances to shine. The lead guitar on this album acts more supplementary than the bass, which is an interesting juxtaposition but does leave me wanting more from the guitarist. But what’s here is incredibly solid and makes me excited to see how he develops his sound in the future.
Newdad had steep expectations to meet when releasing their debut and I’m happy to report they have delivered. Madra is an incredibly solid record that cements the band as rising stars in the indie/ alternative genre and acts as an excellent introduction to the band’s sound for a wider audience. If possible, I recommend listening to the album on vinyl as it supports the band and has a richer sounding mix. I’m excited to see what’s next for Galway cities rising stars.