Speaking to Goldenplec a couple of months before the release of their second EP, ‘Banshee’, NewDad singer, guitarist and lyricist, Julie Dawson, explained how she had drawn inspiration for its tracks from the restlessness and anxiety everyone had been feeling through the stasis of lockdown.
Whereas the band’s preceding EP, ‘Waves’, questioned and addressed its subjects, by and large, from an observer’s point of view, over the four months in which these songs were written, Dawson turned the lens inward, laying bare her thoughts from a more overtly first-person perspective.
That’s not to say ‘Banshee’ is a morose listen. Say It, which opens the EP, may in fact be the breeziest, poppiest tune in their arsenal to date. Despite the song’s exuberance, though, its content is far from blithe lyrical dressing. Here and over its five tracks, the themes of ‘Banshee’ thoughtfully unfold through a dreamscape of helplessness, uncertainty, depression and neurosis.
Led by the rhythm section, the title track sees the melancholia darken and the tempo slow; aptly enough considering the sensory fright-night perception: “I don’t wanna know about the horrors in your head at night/ But I hear them through the wall… “
“It’s dark out and everything’s distorted,” Dawson sings on Thinking Too Much, where the synths play a prominent role in the chorus as everything is suspended in slow motion, piercing the gloom of the dense, claustrophobic rhythm track. “Is this real or am I having a nightmare?” she questions; yet another of the numerous references to the nocturnal realm this EP inhabits.
Ladybird, the EP’s lead single based on the Greta Gerwig film of the same name, is another irresistibly poppy track to bookend the selection, with tremolo to the fore and Dawson’s punctuating declaration of “I’m a fucking mess.” With melodies like this and Say It framing ‘Banshee’, it’s almost easy to forget how dark things actually get beneath the surface.
‘Banshee’ is a work whose subjects very much reside in the shadows and recesses, with the band breaking out instrumentally to provide the frequently shimmering counterpoint to Dawson’s wary narratives. If ‘Waves’ looked back into the recent past and ‘Banshee’ wrestles with the contemporary limbo of lockdown, it remains to be seen whether NewDad will emerge into the light on their imminent debut album. Who knows where their restlessness will take them?