Hailing all the way from Dublin, Ireland; sibling singer-songwriter duo Kate and Rob Flynn, along with Jamie Collinson, Neil Kirwan and John MacMahon, delight us with their sophomore album New Ways of Living. The band bring to us a versatile and collaborative way of writing and playing music that is an effortless intermingling of punk and 90s alternative with an Irish spin. Their music takes the dynamics of We Are the In Crowd’s duetting vocals, the raw and vulnerable musicality of Jimmy Eat World, and twists it into one.
Track number one ‘Ghost Thing’ has a call-and-response-like musical pattern between the vocalists. Their voices work well together – one high and delicate, one low and gravelly, both equally as powerful. It’s one of the many things that stands out about this band. They remind me very much of Jimmy Eat World and Twin Atlantic – explosive but raw and vulnerable. Their guitar sound is stripped-back and grungy, and the lyrics are, in the best way, self-deprecatingly honest and personal.
Track number four, ‘New York’, is one of my favourites on the album. It’s one of the more upbeat tracks and, in Kate Flynn’s quirky and charming voice, the lyrics address coming of age and having self-doubt. At the beginning of the song, they put it very eloquently, “old enough and wise with age yet hands are clenched in the pockets”. Pairing the lyrics with the punk and alternative sound, I’d say this album is about teenage angst but in a very adult way.
‘Resist’, their single for the album, is a great track and I’ve been listening to it a lot in my free time. It’s about the turbulence of a relationship but ultimately “it’s the two of us through everything”. The lyrics may be bittersweet, but it has this raw and gravelly guitar sound and a simple drum pattern that drives the song, so I can only describe it as classic indie rock.
The tempo is slowed with ‘I Want You’, an emotionally heavy and vulnerable song. I like that the band has stripped back for this track, but the guitar still has a glow. Similarly, the album’s concluding track ‘Mind Yourself’ is a little slower. It has an ethereal vibe with the ambient guitars and heart-beat drum pattern, but it builds into an explosion leading to an introspective end where Kate Flynn addresses her younger self, “tell little me her thoughts were valid, from grass roots she got herself here”, and we come full circle.
The Winter Passing may have discovered their sound and message way before this but I think with this album they have honed and refined it perfectly. Somehow New Ways of Living is lyrically personal but relates to the universal. The Winter Passing is a band coming into its own and I can’t wait to listen to what they create next.
Highlights: “New York”, “Resist” and “I Want You”.
New Ways of Living is out now via Counter Intuitive Records & Big Scary Monsters and can be purchased here.