Emerging from Melbourne, NEW GODS have justified their ironic band name in an entirely un-ironic way. Their debut LP Beloved takes the best of 90s indie rock gods like Pavement and the Pixies, filtering it through the studio wizardry of Dave Fridmann and the tape-warp hallmarks of hypnagogic pop. The result is truly unique. Thematically coherent as it explores vast sonic territory, Beloved is a welcome left-field contender for the best album of the year.
Yes, yes, that’s the kind of hyperbolic thing shitty press releases often resort to, and it’s the kind of thing that usually turns people off. But rarely does a record so honestly capture the breadth of human experience as does Beloved. I’m talking the shimmering beauty, the starkness, the bleakness, the fierceness, the warmth, the lusciousness, the unknown. It’s all there.
And it’s being released in quite a novel way – a “digital cassette” available online, with a handwritten tracklist and a sense of intimacy, of real materiality, often gobbled alive by the explosion of the digital. As Beloved streams, you can flip through a series of photographs that only reinforce how honest, how personal, these songs are. The website itself, then, functions as a sort of virtual space in which listeners can disappear.
Beloved’s emotional caverns are as diverse as they are easy to get lost in. While its ten songs feature searing guitar work and clear hooks, they go much deeper that. Songwriter Dom Byrne writes songs with undeniable emotional weight, dripping with the kind of nuanced emotion that’s miles away from the half-baked drama that often passes for “emotion” in popular music.In this sense it has something in common with the Antlers’ Hospice,even if its meaning is less explicit, more diffuse, more abstractly relatable.
From the pop sensibilities of “Turning to White” to the epic, ten-minute “Caravan Park,” Beloved’s elegant and esoteric sensibilities set it apart. Not one song ends where it begins. Unpredictable and hypnotic, itis an undeniable triumph of depth and originality in an age of shallow appropriation and cynical mimicry.
Along with Byrne, New Gods feature Adrian Beltrame, Richard Bradbeer of Eagle and The Worm, Dale Packard from Ground Components, and drummer Sam Raines.
“left us awestruck … transcending genres, transcending moods and further cementing Australia as the safest place to find new upcoming bands with a wide spectrum of influences.”
– I Found Music