Filled with urgent, considered, intensely catchy songs that challenge the norms surrounding relationships, history, and gender; New Pagans‘ debut EP Glacial Erratic is a powerful blend of alternative sounds. The Belfast band take the best elements of post-punk, grunge, and indie rock and transform them in to abrasive, yet melodic noise.
Formed of Claire Miskimmin, Cahir O’Doherty, Conor McAuley, and Lyndsey McDougall, the band have cut their teeth playing in different outfits over the years (Girls Names, Rupture Dogs, Fighting With Wire, Jetplane Landing). Together under the New Pagans moniker, they sound louder and more confident, creating a sonic space to explore issues of frustration, defiance, and resolution.
“The demand for perfection is disturbing” sings vocalist Lyndsey on opening track ‘It’s Darker’, with it’s relentless riffs and commanding percussion. The track is based on a real life confrontation Lyndsey had at a party with an aggressive male musician. The song will strike a chord with any woman who has had to defend her right to have her own opinion, and the subsequent anger that comes with feeling humiliated and devalued for it. “Everyone’s looking and I’m upset” she reveals in a moment of raw honesty, working through the unsettling feeling of being challenged in an environment that’s supposed to be fun.
‘Charlie Has The Face Of a Saint’ is informed by conversations overheard on a Belfast bus. Throwaway phrases like “I’m doing my part”, or “You’re easy to have when you’re down on your knees” float above the loud/quiet verse/chorus structure, acting like a stream-of-consciousness narrative. These conflicting voices don’t provide answers, they simply exist in the ether. The spiralling ‘I Could Die’ follows, with its manic riffs and urgent vocals, before the powerful ‘Bloody Soil’ breaks through. It feels like the soundtrack to an uprising, with its intense riffs and chant-able chorus.
‘Admire’ is a humble, shimmering ode to the perseverance that’s needed to keep a long-term relationship going. Proof that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (even if you’ve daydreamed about it), New Pagans’ treatment of love and its many faults is far more romantic than any Valentine’s card or bouquet. “Let’s preserve our old ways / lets’s preserve them always” Lyndsey sings, as the song builds to a cathartic cacophony of shoegaze noise, removing all sense of doubt about why you chose to stay faithful. It’s a beautifully relatable listen.
Closing track ‘Lily Yeats’ is a tribute to the sister of artists William Butler and Jack Butler Yeats. It smolders with quiet fury, acting as an aural confidence boost to the woman it’s named after, and to all the future Lily Yeats who need help stepping out from their brother’s shadows. “My daughter needs to know that she can do the same” sings Lyndsey, over erratic riffs and pummelling beats, before dual male/female vocals arrive later in the track, driving home the message that it’s everyone’s responsibility to amplify the sound of women’s stories.
New Pagans’ ability to tap into uneasy topics and turn them into empowering, memorable tracks is what makes Glacial Erratic such a an enjoyable and poignant listen. Their confident delivery, genre-blending sounds, and relatable lyrics are well worth your listening time.